Sotheby’s is honored to offer property from the collection of prominent Dallas philanthropist Ruth Sharp Altshuler. A pillar of charitable and civic efforts in Dallas, Mrs. Altshuler’s commitment to and mastery of fundraising transformed her beloved hometown and helped raise millions of dollars for countless local charities. Called the most influential woman in Dallas, she mobilized and inspired civic leaders and society doyennes alike through her charisma, charm, and innate generosity. The intelligence and compassion demonstrated through her public service extended to her private life and the works in her personal collection highlighted by intimate portraits by Édouard Manet and Frederick Frieseke and a tender embrace by Auguste Rodin.
In a lifetime of service filled with many firsts, Mrs. Altshuler became the first woman to serve or chair numerous Dallas charitable boards, including the Salvation Army Dallas Advisory Board, Goodwill Industries, Communities Foundation of Texas Board, United Way, and the Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University.
Her decades of philanthropic work were honored by her induction to the Texas Woman's Hall of Fame. Later marrying Dr. Kenneth Altshuler, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Mrs. Altshuler’s tireless civic efforts would continue. In 2011 she became the first person in the United States to receive all three national service honors—the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year Award from the National Society of Fundraising Executives, the national Alexis de Tocqueville Award of the United Way of America, and the Distinguished Service Award given by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
Born in Dallas, Ruth was the youngest child of Carr Collins Sr., founder of Fidelity Union Life Insurance Company. As an undergraduate at Southern Methodist University, Ruth met her first husband who died in combat during World War II. After graduating from SMU, Ruth began working at Dallas Love Field and met her second husband, Fidelity Union executive, Charles S. Sharp. A turning point in Ruth’s life would come when, as mother to her three young children, Sally, Stanton and Susan, she joined the Junior League. Influenced by philosopher Albert Schweitzer she would espouse his belief that "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."
Highlights from the Collection