Magazine Feature / People

Professor emeritus and his wife enjoy long partnership

photo portrait

Ruth and Phil Perdew. PHOTO BY: Janalee Card Chmel.

After 68 years of marriage, Phil and Ruth Perdew still dote on each other like honeymooners.

“You should see her pottery!” 

“You should see his jewelry, and that’s his art on the walls!” 

But neither seem to boast of their own accomplishments, which are myriad. Phil was a University of Denver professor in the School of Education from 1940–78 and, during that time, he authored a textbook, The Secondary School in Action(Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 1959).

“I thought a lot of the education books I read at the time were pretty shallow,” he says.

Ruth took advantage of the free classes offered to DU faculty spouses and took the equivalent of a major’s worth of music courses. Then, she went on to compose and publish more than 150 piano compositions.

“I was teaching piano to about 40 students and there wasn’t much music to choose from,” she explains.

Those stories sum up much of how the Perdews have lived their lives: If they’re interested in something, they dive in completely, sometimes becoming experts in the industry or trade. Phil, now 91, has been a professor, a fine artist and a jewelry designer. Ruth, 94, has been a dietician, a musician, a composer and a master potter.

Today, they live in an assisted living home in Denver in an apartment stuffed with books, Ruth’s pottery and Phil’s art. A world map hangs on the wall to remind them of the many countries they’ve visited over the years.

Though it would seem that time and familiarity could make them complacent in their relationship, 68 years of marriage have not dampened their esteem for one another.

In a quiet moment, Ruth whispers to Phil, “You really are a remarkable person, you know.” And Phil’s eyes twinkle.

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