Ruth B. Mandel, a Voice for Women in Politics, Dies at 81

Ruth Blumenstock was born on Aug. 29, 1938, in Vienna to Mechel and Lea (Schmelzer) Blumenstock. (After marrying she would use B, for Blumenstock, as her middle initial.)

After the ill-fated voyage, the family lived in England for nine years before moving to Brooklyn to be near relatives. Mr. Blumenstock found work as a shipping clerk in a box factory. He was later a co-owner of women’s clothing stores, including a boutique that he and his wife ran.

Ruth studied English literature at Brooklyn College, graduating in 1960. She earned a doctorate in English from the University of Connecticut in 1969.

While in graduate school, she met Barrett John Mandel, whom she married in 1961. He is gay, her daughter said, and the couple divorced in 1974 but remained good friends. Even after Mr. Mandel had another partner and Ms. Mandel was married again — to Jeffrey Lucker in 1991 — they stayed close.

After Ms. Mandel’s cancer was diagnosed last year, both Mr. Lucker and Mr. Mandel tended to her. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the New York region in March, Mr. Mandel, who lives in Manhattan, moved in with his former wife and her husband at their home in Princeton. Her daughter joined them this month, and they were all with her when she died.

In addition to them, Ms. Mandel is survived by two grandchildren.

She gravitated to Rutgers after earning her Ph.D. Mr. Mandel was teaching English there, and over the years so would she, as well as politics.

In 1971, Ms. Mandel read that the Eagleton Institute was starting a center on women and politics. She had no political experience, but the idea intrigued her. She went to the institute to volunteer to help out, and soon she was involved in organizing the center. She quickly became a co-director and served as director from 1973 to 1994.