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June 24, 1932 - June 22, 2014

Jean Ruth Herndon, retired Erie Community College financial aid director, died Sunday in her Buffalo home under hospice care after a brief illness. She was 81.

Known as “Lou,” the former Jean Ruth Watts was born in Buffalo and graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1950, and from West Virginia State College.

She worked as a secretary in a Buffalo real estate office, then became a factory worker and union activist. She also worked for five years at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, holding a variety of positions. After leaving Roswell Park, she began a new career as an assistant administrator for the State University of New York Urban Center. And in 1973 she became the director of financial aid at the City Campus of Erie Community, from where she retired in 1991.

In her role as administrator, she was credited with policy and procedure developments that contributed to the growth and success of ECC-City Campus. She provided guidance to thousands of students, enabling them to receive financial aid in pursuit of lifelong goals. She also was instrumental in the move of ECC-City Campus from Main and Riley Streets to its current location at 121 Ellicott St.

Mrs. Herndon conducted program reviews for colleges throughout the state and was active in professional organizations, including New York State Financial Aid Administrators, National Association for Financial Aid Administrators and State University of New York Financial Aid Professionals.

After retirement, she and her husband moved to Maryland, where she worked as a computer technician for Marlboro Learning Lab at Prince George’s Community College. She later became a medical transcriptionist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

She and her husband returned to Buffalo in 2007.

In later years, she became an avid bridge player, traveling extensively to compete in tournaments.

She was the president of the Humboldt Bridge Club, a member of Semanon Bridge Club and the Emslie YWCA Bridge Club.

Mrs. Herndon was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and the Altar Guild at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. She served as a board member at Goodwill Industries and Women for Human Rights and Dignity Inc.

Survivors include her husband of 58 years, Edward Sr.; a daughter, Gladys G. Herndon-Hill; two sons, Brian C. and Eric D.; a brother, George A. Watts Jr., and a grandson.

A celebration of her life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 18 Sussex St.