top of page

Vale Dr Ruth Latukefu

Our foundation member Dr Ruth Latukefu was laid to rest on 4th June 2021. Her funeral mirrored her extraordinary life. This longish eulogy is a tribute to a life very well lived. Ruth was born in Germany to a Jewish family. Her parents escaped Nazism in early 1939 and the family arrived in Australia. Several of Ruth’s close relatives perished in the Nazi extermination camps.

Ruth learned English, worked her way through school in spite of her linguistic and cultural handicaps, earned her initial degree at Sydney University and, with her unique intellect, flourished in her chosen fields of archaeology and anthropology. She earned her Master’s degree and then a Ph.D through her studies of the effects of western ‘civilisation’ on indigenous cultures.

In the course of her work, she met and married a Tongan academic, Rev Dr Sione Latukefu. Their long union was rejoiced by the contribution of so many talented grand-children at Ruth’s funeral. Oh, and what a funeral!!

Ruth’s life and heritage was celebrated by prayers in Yiddish, her favourite poems by Wordsworth and Robert Louis Stevenson recited in English by her grandchildren, hymns in Tongan sung so beautifully by her Tongan family wearing traditional dress, gentle musical interludes, again from her grandchildren and then a rollicking jazz send-off. Ruth’s basket-weave enclosed coffin was moved by family members respectfully toward the hearse, which then eventually moved away slowly, all to the sounds of a joyous jazz band playing New Orleans style.

Ruth Latukefu was one of our most storied foundation members. She will be missed by all of us who knew her.

29 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page