How Ruth Altshuler Raised Money, Tapped Her Contacts for Next Month’s JFK Commemoration

SMU Trustee Ruth Altshuler talks about her experience as chair of the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Foundation leading up to its preparation of next month's commemmoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

By Glenn Hunter

Thanks to handwritten letters to dozens of potential donors from philanthropist Ruth Collins Altshuler, next month’s event commemorating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas is on track to reach its $3 million fundraising goal, Altshuler says. A Dallas native and longtime civic leader, Altshuler is chairman of the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Foundation, which has been charged with putting together the Nov. 22 ceremony on Dealey Plaza that will mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death.
To learn more about the event, including the attitudes and challenges she’s encountered along the way, we sat down with Altshuler late last week in the downtown offices of Laurey Peat, whose PR firm, Laurey Peat + Associates, is overseeing the commemoration project. Peat was also present when we began the following (lengthy) Q&A with Altshuler by asking her how things are going for “The 50th: Honoring the Memory of President John F. Kennedy,” some six weeks out.
Ruth Altshuler: I think fine, considering. I think the hardest part of this is, we don’t have any precedent. As much community work as I’ve done for 60 years, they’ll say, ‘We tried this last year and it worked, or didn’t work, and you ought to do this …’ But this is all just new, you know. … It’s just absolutely, we’re making it up as we go along. Like, we weren’t thinking about security and insurance when Laurey took the job....