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Albany Activist Killed Crosssing Marin Avenue Intersection

By Richard Brenneman
Friday June 08, 2007

Well-known Albany environmentalist Ruth Meniketti died Wednesday night after she was struck by a pickup as she crossed Marin Avenue at Talbot Avenue, police report. 

Police arrested the driver, Rebecca Rivera, 43, on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, said Albany Police Lt. Daniel Adams. 

It was the second fatality in four days on the Albany Berkeley border involving an elderly woman walking a short distance from her home and a driver charged with driving under the influence. 

Bruce Yost of the Alameda County Coroner’s office said Meniketti died of multiple blunt injuries. She was 85. She died within a few yards of her home at 1002 Talbot Ave. 

“Ruth was a lifelong environmentalist who made her contributions in a quiet and consistent way,” said former Mayor Robert Cheasty. “She was a delightful soul and will be sorely missed.” 

Cheasty said Meniketti was the longest serving member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and served on numerous other organizations, “all in the interest of improving out community and our environment.” 

The Albany Chamber of Commerce named her Citizen of the Year in 2001, and she played an active part in last year’s political campaigns over the planned shopping mall at Golden Gate Fields. 

Mayor Robert Lieber said Meniketti “was one of the icons of our community,” Lieber said, “and she had served on the waterfront commission. She was a really interesting person.” 

“She was a remarkable person, and she was able to change her mind—something you don’t often see,” said Lieber. 

Meniketti campaigned for the last year’s proposed ballot initiative that called for a new planning process for waterfront development, and when an Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered the measure stricken form the ballot, she campaigned for Joan Wile and Marge Atkinson, who won seats on the City Council and swung the majority to the opposition side. 

Plans for the development were quietly tabled soon after the election. 

Wednesday night’s accident came four days after a similar fatality. 

Guillermo Robles, a retired Berkeley police officer, was arrested Sunday night on manslaughter and drunk driving charges after his car struck and killed Betty Kietzman, 82, of 915 Fresno Ave. as she was crossing Solano Avenue. Robles was released the next morning on $30,000 bail. 

Like Meniketti, Kietzman died less than a block away from her home.