Entrepreneur, Distinguished Alumna and Trustee Ruth O’Block Grant ʼ54 Left Indelible Mark on Seton Hill
Ruth O’Block Grant was a determined entrepreneur, an inspiring community leader, a tireless advocate for education and a devoted mother and grandmother.
She was truly a Seton Hill woman who served her beloved alma mater as a member of the Board of Trustees for 22 years and as Trustee Chair from 2017 to 2019.
Ruth Marie O’Block Grant, a member of the Seton Hill College Class of 1954, died on May 14, 2022.
“A champion for public service and community leadership, Ruth Grant offered her intellect and expertise to numerous governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporations throughout the Southwestern Pennsylvania region,” said President Mary Finger. “On a personal level, I will always cherish Ruth’s guidance, wisdom and quick wit. She was a dear friend and will be missed by all of us.”
Never wavering from a challenge – and always pushing past the status quo – Ruth co-founded and led a corporation for 54 years. She and her late husband, Louis A. Grant Sr., founded Louis A. Grant Inc. together, and under Ruth’s leadership, the company grew to become a multi-million dollar international corporation and major disruptor in the steel and aluminum industry. She established offices in various locations in the United States and managed international business relationships, particularly in Brazil, Russia and Poland.
Ruth’s international trade expertise was recognized at the national level, as she served as a member of the Department of Commerce District Export Council and Advisory Committee on East/West Trade, as well as panel co-chair for the East/West Trade Conference Pittsburgh. Throughout her tenure, Ruth forged her path in a male-dominated field and focused on building diverse partnerships and managing teams to extraordinary success.
Ruth also used her talents in the financial sector, where she served as the first female board member of People's Bank of Unity and remained active on the Board of S&T Bank following the two institutions' merger. In her hometown of Plum, Pa., she was a champion of public service, serving in governmental roles with the Plum Water Authority, Plum Planning and Zoning Commission and the Plum Library Board. Ruth also served on the St. Francis Hospital Board of Trustees.
Ruth’s service to Seton Hill and its students was remarkable. The immediate Past Chair of the Seton Hill University Board who remained a Trustee at the time of her death, Ruth served on the Board for a total of 22 years.
Throughout her tenure on the Board, Ruth was a member of the Executive Committee, the Finance and Business AffairsCommittee, the Committee on Trustees, the University Relations and Development Committee, and the Personnel Committee. She recognized the historic significance of the relationship between the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and the University and worked to secure the preservation – and indeed the amplification – of the legacy, mission and charism of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill into the future.
In addition to her time as a Trustee, she served as a member of the Farrell Advisory Board for Business, the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education Advisory Board, and the Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal Honorary Planning Committee.
Ruth, a Seton Hill Distinguished Alumna, understood the significance of education in changing a life, and has been recognized for that commitment with the establishment of The Ruth O’Block Grant Scholarship Program at Seton Hill by her daughter, Toni Verstandig; son-in-law, Lee Verstandig; and grandson, Grant Verstandig, through The Verstandig Family Foundation.
When the Foundation established The Ruth O’Block Grant Scholarship Program during the Seton Hill Centennial in 2018, Grant Verstandig, himself an entrepreneur, spoke of his grandmother’s influence on his life.
Grant Verstandig said, “It is breathtaking for me to consider all that my grandmother has accomplished in the business world and for Seton Hill. While she remains a pragmatist, always asking the tough questions and diving into the details, she is an inspiration and mentor to me. I engage in conversations with her which have enhanced and allowed my entrepreneurial spirit to soar. My greatest hope is that this gift will enable generations of Seton Hill students to find their passion, seek opportunities, take informed risks, and ultimately become leaders willing to work hard to bring about positive change in the world.”
Student recipients, known as Grant Scholars, participate in a comprehensive program in the areas of entrepreneurship, business, health, cybersecurity and technology and benefit
from the mentorship and guidance of talented corporate and nonprofit leaders. The Ruth O’Block Grant Scholarship Committee membership includes Ruth’s daughters, Ruth Ann Grant Wargofchik and Toni Verstandig, a Seton Hill University Honorary Degree recipient.
Kathryn Dzurik, who graduated from Seton Hill in May and will be pursuing graduate study in Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, was an inaugural recipient of the Ruth O’Block Grant Scholarship. Kathryn spent time with Ruth and her family and was impressed by both her accomplishments and the strong sense of family, community and welcoming she felt when meeting her.
“Mrs. Grant was such a wonderful person, and she was the embodiment of what you felt like when you come to Seton Hill,” Dzurik said. “I really felt like a part of the family. You could sense the radiating love she had for her family and Seton Hill.”
She plans to volunteer with the Grant Scholar program in the future and hopes someday to be a Grant Scholar Mentor, adding, “Being a Grant Scholar meant everything to me. It really opened up the doors to all of the things I’m now doing. I am forever grateful to Ruth Grant and her family for the opportunities they opened up for me and other students at Seton Hill.”