Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Bone Lady' Helped Mote Further Mission

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Bone Lady' Helped Mote Further Mission

Article excerpt

OBITUARY: Ruth DeLynn's skeletal specimens played role in marine discoveries


Ruth DeLynn, the renowned "Bone Lady" of Mote Marine Lab whose latter-day infirmities forged a unique empathy with her world-class collection of skeletal specimens, died Tuesday morning at 87.

Hobbled and ultimately bedridden by multiple ailments and surgeries, DeLynn collected and catalogued the bones of more than 600 marine mammal specimens in 30-plus years as an unpaid volunteer with Mote. In 2011, the American Society of Mammalogists formally accredited Mote's inventory, known as the Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection.

"My mother was a scientist to the bone," said daughter Nina Berk of Boston, who made note of her mother's 47 surgeries, which included a pacemaker, a triple spinal fusion with an electronic pain- control implant, a hip replacement, two knee replacements (same knee), and an ankle plate with screws in both ankles. "And she was an excellent diagnostician."

The Brooklyn, New York, native studied medicine at Syracuse University but delayed a career to raise a family. She was widowed at 32 but married lawyer and Frontier Airlines director Hubert DeLynn, whom she also outlived.

Trained in violin and piano, DeLynn went on to assist the Florida West Coast Symphony, and worked with a number of local charities, from the Community Foundation of Sarasota to Habitat for Humanity.

DeLynn resumed her fascination with the natural world in 1970, when she volunteered to upgrade the American Museum of Natural History's ornithology collection in Manhattan. Over the next 15 years, she learned the arts of carcass preparation and taxidermy.

She rolled up her sleeves and joined Mote's marine mammal stranding network upon moving to Sarasota in the 1980s. DeLynn began what would become the famous Cetacean Osteological Collection by archiving the bones of fatalities that would otherwise go to waste. …

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