Constance Mae Ruben, called Connie by her family and friends, was born on June 18, 1943, in Berkeley, three months before her father, Dr. Sam Ruben died following a chemistry department lab accident at UC Berkeley. Her mother, Helena West Ruben, was left with three kids to raise and subsequently moved in with her mother, Rosina West, who lived on Vincente Ave.
Connie excelled in languages as well as other subjects and made many friends in school. After Sputnik was launched in 1957, Connie, among others, was fast-tracked from junior high to learn Russian at UC Berkeley. Connie graduated from Berkeley High in January 1961. She started college at UC Riverside, transferred to UC Davis and finished her last year at UC Berkeley. She graduated in the fall of 1964 with a double major in political science and French.
Connie went to work in the UC Berkeley system. First in the chemistry department, followed by the criminology department, then for the agricultural publications section of UC Press. She was an editor and was responsible for putting together a book on the trees of the UC Berkeley campus. From the UC system, she went to work at Thoratec in the private sector. Connie retired from Baseline Environmental Consulting in 2008.
Connie married her longtime partner, Professor Irving Fatt, retired dean of the school of optometry, in 1991. They were both heavily involved with the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists. Connie and Irv attended conferences of the society around the world, and she continued going to the meetings even after Irv’s death in 1995.
She and Irv were sailing members of the Berkeley Yacht Club since 1980. Their boat was named Vela. Connie was the editor of the club’s newspaper “Now Hear This” for 20 years. She attended all the BYC board meetings as well as Friday night races, social events and frequently acted as the club photographer. Her dedication to BYC will be deeply missed.
Connie passed away from heart failure on March 3, 2018, at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. She is survived by her brother, George Collins Ruben (Manon,) her nephew Edward (Lara), Eva, the wife of Connie’s late brother, Dana West Ruben, and their two sons, Matt and Sam Ruben.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the UC Berkeley chemistry department in the name of the Sam Ruben and the Irving Fatt Scholarship Fund or to the department of optometry’s Irving Fatt Scholarship Fund.
A celebration of life will be held for Connie at the UC Botanical Garden between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sat. March 10. Parking will be at the Lawrence Hall of Science with a shuttle bus or van taking guests to the Julia Morgan Hall.