Ruth Ann Petree
Mrs. Ruth Ann Petree of Fernandina Beach, Fla. and Saugatuck passed away on Sept. 30, 2015, at Warner Center Hospice in Fernandina Beach. Born in Denville, N.J., she was the eldest of three children born to the late George and Beulah Piercy.
Ruth Ann was a sensitive and precocious lover of all forms of art from an early age. She left home after high school graduation to become an airline flight attendant, a brief career of service and travel that would become a metaphor for her life's journey and adventures.
She was married at a young age to Noel H. Petree Jr. and they welcomed four children before she reached 30 years of age. While raising a family, she was irresistibly pulled toward the arts. She studied calligraphy under the illustrious Raphael Bogoslav in Newport, R.I.
With his encouragement, and that of master stone carver and calligrapher, John (Fud) Benson, she applied and was accepted to "The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art" in New York. However, family commitments prevented her from completing the course.
From this point on, driven by that experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, she began a career in art and graphic design. Starting with an in-home studio in a spare bedroom, she did mostly pro bono work for the PTA, church and community groups. She then moved to a small studio, had a business card printed and for several years worked as a one-woman design firm. As part of a college course she entered a design contest sponsored by "RKO Radio," became a finalist, which led to a contract for an ad that appeared in "Time" magazine.
Those beginnings led to the founding of Petree Graphics in McLean, Va., a boutique graphic design and advertising studio whose clients included many Washington area firms as well as Dick Clark's "United Stations Radio Network." Her success led to her story being featured in Patricia Harrison's book, "America's New Women Entrepreneurs," which noted the following about Ruth Ann: "Disbelief on the part of her associates that she was anything but a housewife spurred Ruth Ann Petree up the entrepreneurial ladder."
As her tastes and study expanded, she founded "Regali" in 1991, in which she produced and sold handmade art books and decorative boxes. Her clients included Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and others in the United States, Japan and Canada.
When her husband was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy in 1996, she began a study of mosaic making that changed her life. She studied the art in Ravenna, Italy, and later took a course taught by the "Spilembergo School of Mosaics."
Throughout her career, her art, work, family and ethics were deeply influenced by her abiding faith. It was this strong faith in God that led her to mosaics. In this medium she produced some of her most significant work, including an evocative series of seven large mosaics depicting the creation as told in the Book of Genesis. These mosaics were prayerfully donated to the Benedictine Order and now hang in the permanent collection at Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, R.I..
In recent years her love of people and cultures led her to travel extensively to countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, France, Italy, Morocco, Egypt, India, Tanzania, Ecuador and the Galapagos. Her later mosaic work reflects the influence of these travels.
Ruth Ann leaves behind her husband of 24 years, Captain Vincent P. Mocini, USN (ret), son Noel H. Petree III (Karen), daughter Barbara Koontz (Rusty), and daughter Mary Virginia Petree (Mark Hurley). Their family also includes 10 grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild who will all dearly miss their beloved "Nana."
She was preceded in death by her parents and by her beloved daughter Margaret Ann (Petree) Walker.
Visitation was will be Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Murphy Funeral Home, Arlington, Va. A mass of Christian burial will be Wednesday, Oct. 7, at noon, at Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, Va., followed by a celebration of life luncheon in the church hall. Memorial masses will be celebrated at future dates at Saint Michael's Church in Fernandina Beach, Portsmouth Abbey in Portsmouth, R.I. and Saint Peter's Church in Douglas. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be determined.
She requested no floral arrangements be displayed at the funeral. In lieu of flowers, she requested that charitable donations in her name be made to either Sisters of Life, 38 Montebello Road, Suffern, N.Y. 10901, www.sistersoflife.org or Lucy's Hearth, 913 West Main Road, Middletown, R.I. 02842, www.lucyshearth.org.