In Memoriam: Ruth Helm Osborn

Dr. Osborn founded GW’s Women Studies Department.

Ruth Helm Osborn
May 08, 2010

Ruth Helm Osborn, founding director of Developing New Horizons for Women, one of the first continuing education programs for women in the country, which led to the establishment of GW’s Women Studies Department, died on Oct. 30 at the age of 90.

Dr. Osborn received a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Minnesota in 1940 and a master’s degree and a doctorate of education in counseling, education and psychology from GW in 1946 and 1963, respectively.

While working toward her master’s degree at GW, Dr. Osborn worked at the Capital Transit Company where one of her assignments was recruiting, interviewing, testing and placing women as office employees.

Between 1964 and 1971, Dr. Osborn served as a trailblazer in recognizing the need for continuing education for women. She advised more than 400 colleges, universities and other organizations on how to develop their own women's education centers. Dr. Osborn retired from GW in 1979.

Dr. Osborn was a past president and long-time active member of the Columbian Women of GW and was a recipient of both the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and Distinguished Alumni Achievement Service Award from GW. Dr. Osborn was a member of the GW Washington Forum, the GWU Emeriti and the Zonta Club of Washington, D.C.

Her husband, James Osborn, preceded her in death. Survivors include her siblings Lois S. Fisher of Indianapolis, and Jack Helm of Denver, along with several generations of cousins, nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held on Nov. 6 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Va., followed by interment at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Memorials may be made at

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