The Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations are a way to remember the dead, whether at the cemetery or at a temporary altar built with photos and items to remember them by. Another way I've seen is with a memorial plaque, "this bench in memory of..." kind of thing.
While doing a test walk for the upcoming Oakland Urban Paths walk (November 10th, 10am), I came across something I hadn't seen before. It basically looks like a grave marker, but it's in one of the many public stairways and pathways around Oakland.
"The Great Fire of 1991" refers to the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley hills firestorm that destroyed the entire neighborhood (as well as several others), so the imagery of a phoenix rising from the ashes is fitting.
I haven't had time to find out anything about Ruth besides what's on this marker. Do any of my Oakland readers know?