Ruth Christina Walden


Ruth Christina Walden, of Ashburn, Virginia, passed away on April 6, 2022, surrounded by her husband and children.  Ruth is survived by her husband of 50 years, Dennis Walden, and their two children, Matthew Walden, of Kensington, Maryland, and Rebecca Murphy, of Ashburn, as well as her four grandchildren: Joshua Murphy, Monica Walden, Jack Murphy and Victor Walden.  Ruth also leaves behind a sister, Barbara Toll, of Greendale, Wisconsin, as well as extended family and friends who were very dear to her.


Ruth was born on October 17, 1948, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Peter and Rose Flegel.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1970 with a B.A. in journalism and received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1981 specializing in mass communication law.  She worked for the Wisconsin State Journal, covering the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.  Ruth then moved on to teaching in the journalism schools at the University of Utah and ultimately the University of North Carolina, where she spent more than 25 years, eventually becoming Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the Journalism School and later the director of the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence. Her legacy lives on through the countless students and junior faculty she mentored, her research and publications in First Amendment theory and mass communication law, and her children who witnessed her deep commitment that extended to grading papers on weekends beside the swimming pool.


Ruth also had many interests and passions outside of work.  She loved to travel, especially to beaches all over the East Coast and the Caribbean.  She volunteered as a Brownie leader, was a communion minister for many decades at Holy Infant parish in Durham, North Carolina, and enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels once retired. She had a passion for reading and particularly enjoyed murder mysteries.  She loved being part of a bridge group where she met some of her closest friends.  One of her biggest passions was swimming; at the age of 73, she still probably could swim longer than most people half her age!  And of course, in recent years she also focused as much time as she could on her grandchildren, enjoying playing board games with them and always bringing cookies.


All who knew Ruth will miss her sorely, but are thankful to have had her in their lives. Visitation will occur at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20, at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Sterling.  The funeral Mass will be at 10:00, with the burial to follow.


Memorial donations in honor of Ruth are welcome to Durham Meals on Wheels, at