Thursday, September 7, 2023

Beth Stewart honored with Whipple award

Beth Stewart, executive director of the Michigan Philharmonic,
proudly shows off the Ruth Huston-Whipple Award she was
awarded for her contributions to the Plymouth community.
Beth Stewart, executive director of the Michigan Philharmonic, was honored with the Ruth Huston-Whipple Award for her contributions to the Plymouth community.

Stewart accepted the award at a meeting of the Plymouth City Commission last month. Prior to joining the Philharmonic organization, she was executive director of the Plymouth Historical Museum where she served for 17 years.

Stewart earned a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in historic preservation with an emphasis in educational programming and management. She and her husband, current Plymouth Township Trustee John Stewart, are long-time Plymouth residents. 

To be considered for the award, a nominee must have demonstrated civic and/or philanthropic engagement within the City of Plymouth with integrity and perseverance.

Nominees must have contributed to the City of Plymouth above and beyond reasonable expectations; demonstrated character, commitment and/or leadership qualities and actively participated in community or civic organizations whose sphere of influence falls within the City of Plymouth.

Stewart said she was thrilled by the award.

"I was honored to receive the Ruth Huston Whipple award from the City of Plymouth.   Ruth Whipple set an historical precedent for women to participate in civic engagement while supporting educational programs for young people in our community as well.  She, and others like her, helped to create the wonderful Plymouth community we have today   I have been privileged to be a part of two organizations which showcase our heritage and our excellent arts programming," Stewart said.

The award is named in honor of Ruth Huston-Whipple, the first female elected Plymouth City Commissioner (1934-1949), first female mayor of Plymouth (1940-1942) and first female Wayne County Board of Supervisors member.

She was a 1913 graduate of Plymouth High School and later worked as a teacher and debate coach at the school. She fought against school policies that discriminated against married women and eventually left the district in protest.

As an elected official, Ruth Huston-Whipple organized the first city-wide refuse collection system in Plymouth, served on the Zoning Board and represented Plymouth in the Michigan Municipal League. She was a tireless volunteer leader of local organizations such as the Plymouth Historical Society, Plymouth Woman's Club, Plymouth Garden Club, Plymouth Business and Professional Women's Club and Plymouth Canteen Club's War Service Committee.

The purpose of the Ruth Huston-Whipple Award for Civic Engagement is to honor a community member who, like Ruth Huston-Whipple, has positively impacted the quality of life in the City of Plymouth through his or her exceptional civic and/or philanthropic engagement.

Stewart was the overwhelming favorite of the selection committee this year.