Mary Lou Ruhe, née Lewy, was born in and raised in the city of Lodz, Poland. Her father was a Latin professor. During World War II, she lived in the Lodz Ghetto. She was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau at which time she was separated from her father, who was taken to Dachau where he died in 1944. She was later transported to the transit camp in Bergen-Belsen near the barracks where Anne Frank died. She spent the rest of the war in a labor camp near Salzwedel, Germany, making bullets for German guns.
Mary Lou was liberated by American troops April 14, 1945. She lived in a displaced persons camp in Vinnhorst, Germany, where she met her future husband, Stefan Ruhe. They immigrated to the United States and settled in St. Louis. Stefan opened a dental laboratory and Mary Lou worked in an office in downtown St. Louis before raising a family of two daughters. Mary Lou Ruhe was an active docent at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center for many years.
Mary Lou Ruhe passed away September 24, 2008 in her 87th year.