Ruth Belchetz

BRUNSWICK – Ruth Belchetz, 70, died peacefully at home in Brunswick on Jan 6, 2020 after a long illness. Daughter of Pearl and Arnold Belchetz, Ruth was born on Nov. 14, 1949 in Larchmont, N.Y. She lived in the New York area, marrying Peter Dessereau in 1982, and they moved to Brunswick in 1987 with their dog, Queen.

Ruth graduated from Mamaroneck High School in New York in 1966. Already an accomplished violinist, she went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and earned a Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Oberlin College in 1970. In Maine she continued to study violin and played in the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra for four years.

Using a method she developed on her own in the late 1970s, Ruth taught English as a second language to adults in both New York and Maine over the next 30 years, helping business people prosper, and helping immigrants adapt to their new country. Many students became lifelong friends. Students from all parts of the world were taught: Japan, China, Philippines, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, India, Nepal, and the Congo in Africa.

Ruth was also a poet. Her writing appeared in the journals Shore-Lines, Maine Progressive, Room of Our Own, PCPL Advocate and Slipstream. She collaborated with Maine Writers and self-published two collections of her own work, On the Tightrope (1993) and Tears (2002). Ruth enjoyed reading her work at venues such as the Theater Project and the Gulf of Maine Books, both in Brunswick.

Ruth was active in political campaigns and a passionate advocate for the mentally ill, speaking on their behalf before the Maine legislature. She volunteered with many state and local organizations, among them the National Association for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), hospice, assisted living facilities, and the sheltered workshop, Spindleworks.

Ruth was devoted to her cats, Felix, Zeus and Athena – and especially to her dog, Queen, a husky-shepherd who worked alongside her at Spindleworks.

Ruth had a talent for selecting gifts treasured by family and friends. She had sophisticated taste in art and clothing, fine food, and a musicologist’s ear for classical music. In her later years, her music appreciation gave her comfort throughout the health problems.

Over the years, Ruth and Peter spent much of their free time visiting their favorite local parks and recreation areas, frequently with Queen: Reid State Park, Popham Beach, Wolfe’s Neck Woods, and the Shaker Village. Later on, destinations were Ruth’s favorite restaurants, and hair and nail salons.

Ruth’s family would like to extend deep appreciation to both CHANS Private Duty Care and CHANS Hospice Care for their home care and love of Ruth in the most recent and difficult times.

Ruth is survived by her husband of 37 years, Peter Dessereau; sisters, Sarah Belchetz-Swenson and Deborah Salzer; and nieces, Zoe, Saskia, Miriam and Rebecca.

Ruth will be remembered at a celebration of life, time and place to be determined.

Arrangements are under the care of Funeral Alternatives, 46 Bath Rd., Brunswick. Condolences may be expressed at

In lieu of flowers, please send gifts to NAMI Maine or the Southern Poverty Law Center.