Ruth Deacon was born in eastern Ohio and was raised on a farm by parents who were firmly committed to education. As a youth, she participated in the usual chores and activities that relate to rural life. She was a 4-H Club member, was in the band (trumpet) and orchestra (violin), and was co-valedictorian of her graduating class.
She graduated from the Ohio State University in 1944 with a degree in home economics education. She was a high school home economics teacher and a home demonstration agent with the Cooperative Extension Service, both in Ohio, before she went to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. There she completed her MS and PhD degrees in home management and served on the Cornell faculty for ten years. A leader in the field of home economics in Iowa and nationally, Ruth Deacon served as dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at Iowa State University from 1975-1987. Prior to coming to Iowa State, Deacon was on the faculty of Cornell University and The Ohio State University.
Throughout her professional career, Ruth Deacon gave leadership to programs that educated professionals that serve families. Many of her students are today's professionals who are addressing the critical societal concerns affecting families. Ruth Deacon has had experience in all three facets of a land grant university-resident instruction, research and outreach. At Cornell University, she was an extension specialist in home management. At The Ohio State University, she was a professor and researcher in home management. At Iowa State University, she integrated all of the functions as she provided leadership to the total College of Family and Consumer Sciences. She gave special attention to increasing the research activity within the College.
She was a prolific writer in professional journals and co-authored a college level text on home management. Her interest in international education is evidenced by her consulting work in Egypt, The Netherlands, Brazil and Costa Rica and by teaching at Canadian universities in Nova Scotia and Alberta and at the University of Panama. In 1987, Deacon gave the commemorative lecture "Visions for the 21st Century" at the American Home Economics Association annual meeting. In 1990, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Home Economics Foundation. She is a member of numerous honor societies. In her retirement Deacon lives in Worthington, Ohio, where she is active professionally and in several community organizations. She serves in a leadership role in her church and maintains contact with many former colleagues and students.