Ruth Gmeiner Frandsen, the first female reporter to cover the Supreme Court, died on June 10 of pneumonia. She was 85.
The Pueblo, Colo., native earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri before joining the United Press as a dictationist in 1942. Her inquisitive nature earned her a promotion to a reporter position, and her tenacity made her one of only a handful of female journalists to cover Washington before and after World War II.
Under the byline Ruth Gmeiner, she worked a variety of beats — from writing feature articles and health news to covering two first ladies (Eleanor Roosevelt and Bess Truman) and both the 1948 and 1952 political conventions. Gmeiner also reported on the House Un-American Activities Committee’s investigation of accused spy Alger Hiss and the 1954 shooting in the the U.S. House of Representatives.
One of the last stories she filed was the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregated schools unconstitutional. The veteran reporter was in the courthouse when the decision was read.
After resigning later that year, Gmeiner married UP Washington news editor, Julius Frandsen. She dedicated the rest of her life to promoting animal rights and lobbying for anti-cruelty laws. Her son, Jon Frandsen, later became a chief congressional correspondent for the Gannett News Service.