Tivol Matriarch Ruthie Tivol Dies at 91

IndependentsMar 16, 2021

Tivol Matriarch Ruthie Tivol Dies at 91

She is remembered as a force of nature with an impeccable sense of style and a keen eye for up-and-coming designers.

Ruthie Tivol was a titan of the jewelry industry, running Kansas City independent Tivol for decades alongside husband Harold. She died last week at the age of 91. (Photo courtesy of Tivol Facebook page)
Kansas City, Mo.—Ruthie Tivol, the longstanding matriarch of Kansas City jeweler Tivol, died March 10.

She was 91.

According to her obituary in The Kansas City Star, Ruth Abend Krigel Tivol, better known as Ruthie, was born July 10, 1929 in Dubienka, Poland.

In December 1938, when she was 9, she moved with her mother and older sister to Kansas City, reuniting with her father, who had moved to the United States several years prior.

She always understood how fortunate her family was to escape the Nazis and never forgot those who were left behind.

Tivol graduated from Kansas City’s Central High School in 1946 and attended the University of Missouri for one year before leaving to work for George K. Baum & Co., an investment banking firm.

Shortly after, she met an attorney named Herbert Mayer Krigel. They married in 1950, relocating briefly to California but returning to Kansas City shortly before their first child was born.

The couple went on to have two more children together before Krigel died in 1974. 

A widow at the age of 45, Tivol went to work for J.C. Nichols for a few years before marrying legendary retailer Harold Tivol in 1978 and joining him to work at his family’s jewelry store.

Her style and charm enhanced the business, and the couple worked side-by-side for decades, traveling the world to find the best work from up-and-coming designers and becoming a well-known, and well-loved, pair in the jewelry industry.

Harold died in 2016 at the age of 92.  

Outside of the jewelry industry, Tivol was president of the PTA at the Border Star School, president of the Women’s Auxiliary at Menorah Medical Center and, for many years, worked as a docent at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 

She belonged to the New Reform Temple, The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, Oakwood Country Club, Tamarisk Country Club and volunteered for the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City.

Tivol also chaired numerous fundraisers for area organizations, including the Barstow School, the Anne Frank Exhibit at Union Station, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
Her hobbies included golf, tennis, and bridge, and she was part of a women’s study group that got together regularly for more than 50 years. 

The store announced her passing via social media last week, paying homage to a woman the retailer described as a force of nature who inspired the staff at Tivol both personally and professionally. 

“She and Harold were the titans of the industry for years,” the post reads. “It is truly the end of an era. May her memory be a blessing.” 
Tivol was preceded in death by her first husband, Herbert; her second husband, Harold; and her granddaughter, Brooke Tivol McGrath. 

She is survived by five children, Merilyn Berenbom (Loren), Kathy Hawley (Scott), James Krigel (Felicia), Tom Tivol (Susan) and Cathy Maslan (Mark); 13 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; one brother, Mel Abend; and many loving nieces and nephews.  

A Zoom memorial service is scheduled for this coming Sunday, March 21 at 11 a.m. Central time. Anyone interested in attending should email for more information. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ruth Krigel Tivol Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, 5801 W. 115th St., Overland Park, Kansas 66211, or to a charity of one’s choosing.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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