New York Times Portraits of Grief

Ruth E. Ketler

Ruth E. Ketler once said she thought it was possible to be an executive who was liked and admired, instead of respected and feared. At Fiduciary Trust, where she was director of research, and in her daily life around the city, she tried to make that come true.

"Ruth made you want to give something back to her," said Robert Dow, her longtime companion, who called her Beautiful Ruth. She generated compliments, but studiously avoided becoming self-important. Her fans included doormen, artists and cabdrivers.

She built a strong following among her investment banking peers, people who not easily impressed.

"In a business that can be dehumanizing at times, she always had a heart," said John R. McMillin, an analyst for Prudential Securities. If there was one bit of shared wisdom around Wall Street, said Heidi Albert of Lehman Brothers , it was: "Nobody didn't like Ruth."

Ms. Ketler might counsel an infuriated friend, visit a sick colleague, remember a small child's birthday. She loved to fish in the surf off Cape Cod, to sink difficult shots on the golf course, and to pick the winner in the Kentucky Derby. And she liked to have a big group over for dinner, which she would cook, and she would listen intently as her guests chatted around the table.

"It wasn't that she was a free spirit," said Jan Meissner, a friend. "She was a very large spirit."