Ruth Ziolkowski, long-time inspirational leader of Crazy Horse Memorial, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 21 with members of her family at her side.

Ruth Ross was born on June 26, 1926, in Hartford, Conn. She grew up in West Hartford, Conn., where she first met the sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski. She came to the Black Hills of South Dakota in June 1947 to help Korczak create a memorial to honor the North American Indian.

Ruth and Korczak married on Thanksgiving 1950. Together they had 10 children, many of whom have made the Crazy Horse dream their life’s work. Ruth served as the chief executive officer of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation since her husband’s passing on Oct. 20, 1982. Ruth was preceded in death by Korczak and their daughter Anne, who passed away on May 6, 2011.

With foresight and vision, Ruth had worked with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Board of Directors in preparing for succession of leadership. A three-member executive management team is in place to lead the continued growth and development of the nonprofit foundation.

There will be a public viewing at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, May 26 in the studio of the original log home built by Ruth and her sculptor husband Korczak in 1948. Admission fees will be waived during this time. The home is open year round to visitors of the Memorial and contains art, antiques and heirlooms. 

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 27 at the memorial. Guests are encouraged to come early. Services are open to friends and the public and admission fees will be waived  from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the event.

For more information, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial website.