Ruth A. Hlavacek

ruth hlavacek

September 15, 1948 ~ December 9, 2023

Ruth Ann Hlavacek (Rademacher) of Leonia, NJ and Shelter Island, NY passed away on December 9th after a long and difficult battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Ruth was born in Arkansas City, Kansas in 1948. She was the third of four children whose father (Delmer) was a welder and mother (Sarah or “Babe”) was a homemaker. Del and Babe also had a stint running a restaurant during Great Depression. Ruth grew up in Ark City with older brother Gary (“Rod”), older sister Katherine (“Kay”) and younger sister Judy. Ruth graduated from Arkansas City High School where she was editor of the yearbook and received a scholarship to enroll at the University of Kansas. She was the first woman in her family to attend college. She chose to major in journalism and graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU. She was recruited by the Wall Street Journal’s Dallas bureau and in 1971 she was asked to ‘try out’ working for the Journal at their headquarters in New York City. She made the leap and never looked back, rising rapidly through the ranks to become assistant Copy Chief of the National news desk and writing front page articles before the age of 30.

Ruth met her husband Richard Hlavacek, a native New Yorker, while living in Manhattan. They married in 1975, enjoyed a honeymoon in Paris and then moved to Brooklyn Heights. Over the next 48 years, they became an inseparable couple with a wide range of interests and friends from all over the country. Some of these beloved friends were writers and editors and occasionally Ruth and Richard would appear in newspaper columns after a memorable visit. They loved taking advantage of NYC’s music, theater, culture, and food and enjoyed travel across the US, Europe, Hong Kong and Egypt.

Ruth gave birth to her first son Jeremy in 1977 in New York. A few years later the young family moved to Leonia, NJ where a second son Timothy was born. Ruth was a wonderful and devoted mother. A few years later Ruth returned to her calling in journalism and began working at Grants Interest Rate Observer. For almost 30 years, she tweaked copy, polished sentences and fact-checked incredibly dense documents for economist and financial writer Jim Grant. She toiled behind the scenes to deliver a flawless publication that was written for the world’s leading economists, hedge fund managers, investment bankers and central banks. Her time at Grants was the pinnacle of her career.

She also ghost wrote books and newsletters for many well-known celebrities and thinkers from the finance industry. She had an uncanny ability to take complex financial texts and transform them into content that was understandable, engaging and error-free.

Ruth entered Hlavacek family lore when she made an appearance on the popular game show the $20,000 Pyramid hosted by Dick Clark. She was an unstoppable force in head-to-head competitions and is remembered as the contestant who won the most games, without winning the $20,000 prize. She won upwards of 20 consecutive games becoming the Ken Jennings of her time. VHS tapes of her appearances were watched regularly in the Hlavacek home.

It would be easy to go on, but Ruth wouldn’t want that. If she was editing this document, she would delete the above paragraphs about her and insist that more words be spent on friends and family.

Ruth developed and nurtured many deep friendships throughout her life. From her early days in Ark City to her time at KU to her life in New York as a young woman and as a fixture in the communities of Leonia and Shelter Island. She loved to socialize and was always willing to chat, joke and host. Friends looked forward to Ruth sharing her family recipes, exchanging holiday treats, and having a great time at neighborhood parties. Ruth was active in everything from cub scouts to CCD while her children were young. In Leonia, she was a member of the PEO, a women’s empowerment group. On Shelter Island, Ruth enjoyed taking in the island’s natural beauty while kayaking, hiking at the nature preserve, wandering the beach, and looking up at the stars. Ruth was a legendary cook who covered everything from Thanksgiving meals that would challenge Martha Stewart to everyday family favorites and comfort food.

Ruth loved her family deeply and would do anything for them. Old fashioned backyard birthday parties for Jeremy and Tim were filled with fun and creative ideas. She attended countless little league games, basketball games and track meets. She tirelessly provided invaluable advice and guidance for her sons.

In recent years, her five grandchildren – Lukas, Jackson, Claire, Ben, and Charlotte would become perhaps her greatest joy. She devoted thousands of hours to caring for them while leading trips to the zoo at Van Saun Park or coming up with creative activities like ‘chasing the train’.

The onset of Alzheimer’s limited her ability to enjoy the life she loved and deserved. It was especially cruel that the disease sapped Ruth of her extraordinary ability to remember facts, words, and bits of knowledge. Fortunately, her family has preserved a trove of emails that shared favorite recipes, exciting updates about her five grandchildren, and loving notes just to “check in”.

Ruth is survived by husband Richard, her son Jeremy and wife Maia and their children Lukas and Jackson and son Tim and wife Kate and children Claire, Ben and Charlotte. She is also survived also by her sister, Judy Morrison and brother, Gary Rademacher. Her older sister, Katherine (Kay) Pudden died in an auto accident.

Ruth was proud of her Midwestern roots and embodied values of hard work, high ethical standards and compassion for the less fortunate. She challenged the status quo and did it “her way” as she achieved remarkable things during a very rich life. Ruth/mom/grandma serves as a model and inspiration for us all.

Flowers are welcome, but the family would also welcome donations to: PEO International or the Alzheimers Association


Mass: December 14, 2023 11:00 am

St. John R. C. Church
Broad & Harrison Avenue
Leonia, NJ 07605

Visitation at Funeral Home: December 13, 2023 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Frank A. Patti & Kenneth Mikatarian Funeral Home
327 Main Street
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Final Resting Place: December 14, 2023 12:00 pm

Brookside Cemetery
425 Engle Street
Englewood, NJ 07631

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Memories Timeline


  1. Dear Richard, Jeremy and Timothy, and Family
    I am so sorry to hear of Ruth‘s passing. Since her sister Kay was my best friend I always felt like Ruth (Ruthie)
    Was my little sister. She was so special and many many ways. She will be missed So much, but my memories of our times together will always be precious.
    I will be asking our dear Lord and all the angels to give you extra strength during this most difficult time in your lives. My love to all. Annie Lanning

  2. Ruth was such a special woman. One of a kind. My heart breaks for her family. Way too soon. Gods bless her.

  3. What a brilliant woman Ruth was. She excelled in all she did–her family, her job, her joy for life. She was a lifelong best friend of my sister at high school in Arkansas City, Kansss and later as they both moved to the East Coast. In high school, she loved to come over to our house, visiting and laughing with my family. What wonderful memories I have of her and the beautiful letters she wrote to my sister and to my family. Her struggles with Alzheimers were made so much better through the help of Richard's devoted care and her loving family. People like Ruth make the world a better place and that is how I will always remember her. With love and respect, Joe Ranney

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