Ruth Gold talks about the Emma Cottingham, a large ship that was built in Somers Point, during a tour of the Atlantic County Historical Society museum in 2006.

Staff photo by Anthony Smedile, March 17, 2006

Ruth C. Gold demonstrated a tremendous capacity to learn and to interest people in whatever she worked on.

She was a self-taught seamstress and bookbinder who could do anything with her hands, and was the owner of her family’s decorating business for many years near Philadelphia. In 1995, she became the curator of the Atlantic County Historical Society in Somers Point and taught herself how to use a computer to keep track of the museum’s artifacts.

Gold, of Margate, died last month at 87. She spent the last 20 years of her life helping the American Red Cross and Myriam’s Dream Bindery in Atlantic City, in addition to her work with the historical society.

“She had an unusual talent,” said her brother Dr. Herbert E. Cohen, 81, of Philadelphia. “She would just start a job that was too hard and long to do. ... She worked in such a way that other people came by and started to work with her because they knew whatever she was doing was worthwhile, and they knew it was a pleasure to do it, and they were doing it with someone who was nice.”

Gold could have made a six-figure salary with her business experience when she moved to southern New Jersey in the 1980s, Cohen said, but she was just interested in helping the community when she started with the Red Cross and the historical society.

“I think the museum gave her the vehicle for expressing herself and for working with other people. It’s lucky she found it because at that point in her life ... she just was interested in helping the community and helping people,” Cohen said. “Her death elicited such a strong response from so many people down there.”

Gold was passionate about her work at the museum, said Allen “Boo” Pergament, the assistant curator.

“It was her love. She was what I call a consummate curator. She was very, very knowlegeable about the care of the museum artifacts and identifying them,” said Pergament, 80, of Margate, who worked with Cohen for 12 years. “She was very patient. She taught me a great deal about patience, with the care and the cleaning and the categorizing of these different items.”

Joan Frankel, of Margate, met Gold when she started volunteering at the historical society.

“I worked with her every Wednesday for close to seven years,” said Frankel, 68, who shared an interest in antiques with Gold. “She just thrived explaining everything in the museum. All the school kids in Somers Point came through many times. She enjoyed those tours immensely, and all the teachers knew her.”

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