Albany Activist’s Family Wins Wrongful Death Settlement

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday July 16, 2009 - 10:53:00 AM

The family of much-loved Albany environmentalist Ruth Meniketti has won a $500,000 settlement for her wrongful death, said family lawyer and former Albany Mayor Robert Cheasty. 

Meniketti was killed June 7, 2007, two weeks before her 86th birthday, when she was struck by a drunk driver as she was walking across Marin Avenue at Talbot Avenue, police reported. 

The driver, construction worker Rebecca Rivera, was arrested on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, said Albany Police Lt. Daniel Adams at the time. 

Rivera subsequently spent three months in county jail and remains on probation, Cheasty said Wednesday.  

Meniketti served for more than three decades on Albany’s Parks and Recreation Commission and had also served on the city’s Traffic and Safety Commission. 

An environmental activist, she was deeply involved with Citizens for Eastshore Parks and Friends of Five Creeks. 

“Ruth was a shining example of how to live your life—always giving and compassionate. She was an example of how to stay young. Just two weeks before she was killed I was working with her on our Green Albany Day,” stated Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson.  

At the time of her death, then-Mayor Robert Lieber said Meniketti “was one of the icons of our community,” noting that “she had served on the waterfront commission. She was a really interesting person.” 

The Albany Chamber of Commerce named her Citizen of the Year in 2001, and she played an active part in the 2006 political campaigns over the planned shopping mall at Golden Gate Fields. 

Son Marco Meniketti is an anthropology professor at San Jose State. “Most of all I will miss not having her here with us while my daughter grows up. I just wanted her to help guide my daughter as she guided my sister and me,” he said. “She was so full of ideas and love of life. She was truly inspirational.”