Ruth Navamanie Mathew
Ruth Navamanie Mathew
  • January 8, 1945 - January 6, 2018
  • Williamsburg, Virginia

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Williamsburg, VA 23188
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Mrs. Ruth Navamanie Mathew died peacefully in her sleep on January 6, 2018, just 2 days short of her 73rd birthday. George, her devoted husband of 44 years was at her side. She is survived by her husband Mr. George Mathew, her daughter Dr. Jennifer Mathew-Lewis, her son-in-law Dr. John Lewis and her 3 grandchildren, Elsa, Elia and John Ezra Mathew-Lewis. She is also survived by her elder sisters Susan Tirusittampalam and Sara Thomas, and her elder brothers Thomas and Jacob Elias.

Ruth was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka the youngest of7 girls and 2 boys and her middle name "Navamanie" means 9th jewel in her native tongue of Tamil. She left home at a young age of 17 to study in London and received her BS degree in biochemistry. While living in England with her brother Thomas, she had a traditional arranged marriage to George Mathew who had emigrated himself from India to New York City. Ruth made her new home in the United States of America and began working at Columbia University Hospital as a clinical chemist. They had their first and only daughter Jennifer and moved from an apartment in Queens to the suburbs of Long Island. They moved an additional 2 times on Long Island and spent their last 20 years in NY living near Stony Brook University where their daughter attended medical school. Ruth worked for many years at Contract Pharmacal in Hauppauge, NY as a chemist. She was an active member of the Stony Brook Community Church and sang in the choir for almost 2 decades. They left NY to move to Virginia in 2005 to be closer to their grandchildren. After settling in Williamsburg, they became members of Williamsburg United Methodist Church. She was active in the UMC Women's Fellowship and Clarke Heritage Circle. They built a home close to Merchant Square and she enjoyed attending the musical and theatrical productions associated with William and Mary College.

Ruth was raised in a family that prized the music and arts. She learned to play violin at an early age and played Indian classical music. She had a beautiful voice and was an auditory learner - she could play anything on the violin after just hearing it once or twice. She taught herself to read sheet music after coming to the USA and joining the church choir. She began taking piano lessons in Williamsburg after age 60, never feeling too old to learn something new. She enjoyed music in all its forms and loved to play the violin for her grandchildren so they could dance. She was known by her friends and family as a devoted friend, remembering birthdays, anniversaries faithfully and reaching out often by phone or email to just let others know she was thinking of them. She had a bright disposition and engaging smile and those who knew her said she rarely let on about the challenges to her health. Even in her later years as she struggled to maintain the demanding schedule of dialysis, she was not faint of heart. She persevered where others gave in. She will be remembered fondly and deeply for her beautiful smile, voice and spirit.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 11am at the Williamsburg United Methodist Church, 500 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Ruth's honor to the Williamsburg UMC Memorial fund. Online condolences may be shared with the family at