Ruth Pearson Long, a teacher and arts maven who co-founded a Carmichael school that introduced children to dance, poetry, music and painting, died Nov. 8, her family said. She was 93.
A former dancer and actress, Mrs. Long became a trailblazing educator who devoted her life to teaching children through the arts. During the 1960s, she helped start one of the first cooperative nursery schools in Sacramento with Jeanada Nolan, a noted California expert on preschool education. She also taught modern dance to generations of children and ran a charm school at the YWCA in Sacramento.
In 1972, she opened Inverness Day School with seven preschool students at her home in Carmichael. The curriculum inspired children to think through creative activities, including fingerpainting, clay sculpting, learning musical instruments, and dancing. Youngsters learned about poetry and literature by dancing during daily "circle time" in a nearby church auditorium.
"Everything was fun," said Loretta Connor, former Inverness co-director and teacher. "After the first year, the parents refused to leave until we agreed to start a kindergarten. Then after that, they wouldn't leave until we started a first grade. It eventually went all the way to fourth grade."
Mrs. Long drew support for the school from friends in the arts community as an active member of the Crocker Art Gallery and the Creative Arts League.
Musicians Bill Edwards and Tom Schmidt performed during story time. Donald Herberholz, a Sacramento State art education expert and sculptor, created murals for the reading room.
"She was very outgoing and very easy to get acquainted with," said Herberholz's wife, Barbara, who also taught art at Sacramento State. "She had a real way with children."
Born in 1918, Ruth Hazan grew up and studied dance in Oak Park, Ill., until she was 18, when her father lost his import-export business in the Great Depression. She moved with her family to New York and took acting and dance classes at the New School with plans for a professional career in the arts.
She joined an acting corps that entertained U.S. troops overseas during World War II and met another actor, Stanley Pearson. They married in 1947 and moved in 1950 to Sacramento, where she earned a preschool education degree from Sacramento State and he was public school speech therapist and TV program moderator.
The couple raised two children and opened the Inverness School in a home they bought and moved to a lot near the Carmichael Library. They sold the school and moved in 1984 to Cambria, where they ran a bed and breakfast together until her husband died in 1998. She was remarried for six years to Tom Long, who died in 2008.
A lively, creative woman, Mrs. Long wrote poetry, spoke French and was an accomplished potter. She lived the last four years in a retirement home in Reseda. During her teaching career, she had taught dance to residents in wheelchairs at senior homes.
"She applied her sense of creative dance to life in many ways," said her daughter Robin Pearson Rose. "And of course, she loved children."
Ruth Pearson Long
Born: Dec. 14, 1918
Died: Nov. 8, 2012
Survived by: Children, Robin Pearson Rose of Sherman Oaks, and Mark Pearson of Pasadena; sister, Lenore Levy of Fort Lee, N.J.; brother, Earl Hazan of Green Bay, Wis.; and two grandchildren
Services: Noon Dec. 16 at the Sportsmen Lodge Event Center, 12833 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604. Condolences may be posted at www.tedmayrfuneralhome.com