Ruth Waltenspiel

Honorary Degrees

Sonoma State University

Ruth Waltenspiel is co-owner, with her husband Ron, of Timber Crest Farms in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma. They started the ranch in 1957 and are considered pioneers in the American production of dried fruit and sun-dried tomatoes. Ms. Waltenspiel oversaw the business operations of the farm, while her husband managed the agricultural. She observed that her job was to sell more than her husband could grow, and her husband's job was to grow more than she could sell. In addition to her efforts to make Timber Crest Farms a commercial success, Mrs. Waltenspiel also invested in her employees. The workers at the farm were primarily Latino and she paid for their college or trade school education, including the cost of books and fees.  

Mrs. Waltenspiel has been described as a jovial dynamo who enjoys what she does. She is an active competitor, riding her horse in national endurance races through the American Endurance Ride Conference. During the 2019 Kincade fire evacuations, Mrs. Waltenspiel stayed behind in Dry Creek to take care of her neighbor’s animals. She has a demonstrated commitment to her community and its well-being.

She also has been an active participant in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Sonoma State University, acting as an ambassador for the program and serving on the program’s advisory board since 2014. She is passionate about supporting students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and has made a generous bequest of more than $2 million to the School of Science & Technology to support STEM+Health programs. In addition, she has generously supported the school with donations of wine from her vineyard.

In 2013, the North Bay Business Journal highlighted Mrs. Waltenspiel’s career in its Women in Business edition. Her commitment to helping others and giving back to her community are noteworthy achievements.

In recognition of her exemplary achievements as well as her dedication to the well-being of her broader community, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and Sonoma State University are proud to confer upon Ruth Waltenspiel the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.