At that point, their male colleagues lunched at Burdine’s Men’s Grill — which barred women until 1969.
“The talk was about ... what each one was doing,’’ recalled McLemore, a travel agent and widow of the late broadcaster and Miami News sportswriter Morris McLemore.
“There were definitely conversions about men and the way they handled things with women employees,’’ she said, and “what women could do better than men.’’
She called Kassewitz “Miss Positive,’’ the kind of person who lavishly praised waiters, waitresses and other service workers.
The group also had regular dinners and a Sunday ritual.
“After church [at Plymouth], we’d go to Riviera’’ Country Club, McLemore said.
In 1972, the county manager chose Kassewitz as the county’s first communications specialist. Her first task: figuring out how to get citizens involved in local government through Florida’s new Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.
“She also helped to execute a major public education campaign for voter approval, which at that time was the largest series of bond issues ever proposed at a local government level: $500 million,’’ Blower noted. “The bond issue won voter approval and the campaign was awarded the Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America as the nation’s best in public service.’’
Christopher Dudley, CEO of the PR/marketing firm Advancement Associates, worked for Kassewitz at Jackson and called her “quite a lady, and a consummate professional who worked hard to promote Jackson and the [public relations] profession.’’
She always looked “crisp and fresh,’’ Dudley said. “Not a hair out of place. I’d see her 8 a.m. for a meeting or 6 p.m. and she’d be just as prepared for that meeting. She always sat up straight and spoke very clearly, and always prepared.’’
She taught him that community involvement was just as important as client promotion, “and she did in a big way. She said, ‘You’ve got to give back.’’’
Kassewitz did so by serving on a slew of civic boards and committees, including the YMCA of Greater Miami, the Miami-Dade Community College Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida, United Protestant Appeal, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors, Tropical Girl Scouts, the America Lung Association, and the City of Miami Beautification Committee.
She is cited Julia’s Daughters: Women in Dade’s History 1513-1975, and Beyond Julia’s Daughters: 1975-2000. In May 2007, the Association of Women in Communication gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kassewitz spent her final years living with a caregiver, Blondele Lake. Loved ones said she was estranged from Jack Kassewitz, Jr., adopted son of her late husband and his first wife.
A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. on May 12 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 3400 Devon Rd., Coconut Grove.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the E.W. Blower Memorial Fund, c/o The Dade Community Foundation, 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Suite 505, Miami, FL 33131, to honor Ruth’s beloved late father and to support pediatric research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine — to which she donated her body.