December 1, 1926 — February 8, 2015
At the time of her 60th Jubilee Sister Ruth Ann Bange reflected: “The Sisters are really trying to reach out to the poor. At the time I entered it was to try to reach out to those who didn’t have education. Today it’s the poor in other areas. We are reaching out in various ways, but it’s always with the poor. I think that’s our charism, trying to meet whatever the needs there are at the time.”
Sister Ruth Ann’s first learned to meet the needs of others in her family. She grew up with three brothers and three sisters, and she loved each of them dearly. She was proud of the fact that her paternal great-grandfather immigrated to Cincinnati from Russia in 1860 and that her maternal grandparents arrived in Cincinnati from France in 1888. Her own rich cultural heritage gave her a deep appreciation for the culture of others. The more she learned about her family background, the generations who farmed and raised animals, the more deeply she believed her love of all of creation was in her DNA.
Ruth Ann met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at her home parish, St. Peter’s in Hamilton, Ohio. They were her teachers all through grade school and high school. By the time she was ready to graduate from Notre Dame High School she had decided she wanted to do something worthwhile with her life. She had worked in sales part-time during her junior year, and clerked in an office during the summer. But entering a teaching order and dedicating her life to educating young people seemed to be the most worthwhile thing she could do. She choose Notre Dame not only because she had had 12 years of experience of the Sisters, but because, as she said when she was preparing for vows, Notre Dame’s “…combination of the active and the contemplative life was the one best suited….” to her natural disposition. She entered the community in August, 1944.
As Sister Rose Margaret she spent 10 years meeting the needs of students in various grade schools of the Ohio Province and then she was assigned to Bishop Hartley High School to teach English, History and Biology. She spent the next 36 years teaching high school students biology, microbiology, animal behavior, environmental biology and human physiology. An organized, creative and energetic teacher, she joyfully shared with her students her love of all God’s creation – and the wonder of how all of creation worked. In 1964 she received two awards for outstanding work with students on science projects. She arranged field trips to zoos and made hands on experiences possible: “I’d bring unusual animals to school, like a baby alligator, a ferret, a possum, a skunk, and all kinds of snakes.” She also dealt cheerfully with the ire of other staff members when her animals got loose – as they frequently did.
Sister Ruth Ann’s creativity and organizational skills were called on to help plan the merger of Chaminade High School and Julienne High School. She was named Director of Academics when Chaminade-Julienne High School opened in 1973 and served in that role for two years before returning to full time teaching. As the head of the Science Department she helped make C-J’s science program one of the best in southwestern Ohio. It received recognition from profession science organizations for its quality of teaching, amount of lab time, and variety of course offerings. In 1985 she retired from teaching and took a well-earned sabbatical. At the end of her sabbatical she was invited to return to Chaminade-Julienne to create a Community Service Program. She responded to this new need with renewed energy and served as C-J’s first Director of Community Service. In 1989 her work organizing the Community Service Program was recognized by the Governor of Ohio. In 1991, as she prepared to retire for a second time, Chaminade-Julienne established a scholarship in her honor, enrolled her in the Chaminade-Julienne Hall of Fame for her years of service to the school, and awarded her their Founder Award.
Ruth Ann’s work with students fanning the flames of their desire to serve people in need fanned the same flame in her own heart. After retiring the second time she deepened her experience of God in creation by working for five months at Yellowstone National Park. Then she responded to a call to join Sisters of Notre Dame in Arizona. Ruth Ann fell in love with the Southwest. She started studying Spanish and went to work part-time in a fabric shop – to experience for herself the reality of the working poor. For six years she and Sister Bernice Weilbacher co-directed the Religious Education programs at St. Bartholomew Parish in San Manuel, Arizona. After that Ruth Ann returned to Mesa to serve as hostess at the SND house there.
A good “community sister”, Ruth Ann shared her gifts with her sisters at home as well as with co-workers in ministry. Her cheerfulness, openness, caring and humor marked her relationships with her Sisters and co-workers. She easily expressed and shared her opinions. Her love of all animals and expertise in biology made her the resident expert on animals everywhere she lived. That same love of animals sometimes stretched community good will as in the case of her befriending the gander that arrives at Mt. Notre Dame each spring. It was ok for her to go outside to walk with the gander and feed him, but not ok when one afternoon he followed her through the door of the Health Center. She generously shared her excellent cooking skills, she was attentive to community members who were ill, and loved community celebrations of all kinds. An avid sports fan, she named autumn as her favorite season not because of the lovely fall leaves, but because football was her favorite sport. She could be counted on to give the scores of the Notre Dame University and Cincinnati Bengal football games.
In addition to animals and sports, Ruthann loved dancing, reading, listening to music, games and in later years discovered her talent as a painter. She enjoyed gardening, walks out of doors and camping in the southwest. She enjoyed travel and held dear her memories of her 1974 trip to Britain and her experiences in the Mini-Arc renewal program in Rome in 1977. Her lightheartedness and sense of adventure took an interesting twist in 1968. WING, a Dayton radio station, and Beech Nut Gum sponsored a contest. The prize was a red and yellow zebra striped 1961 Nash station wagon. Entrants were required, in 25 words or less to state why they deserved the prize. 1,000 entries were received. At that time she was stilled known as Sister Rose Margaret and had not yet learned how to drive. She entered the contest anyway writing: “Dear Lively Guys—we want the Beech Nut Buggy to show the world that nuns are not out of date, and that we all swing with WING.” She won the station wagon.
Declining health brought Ruth Ann back to Cincinnati. She appreciated the opportunities she had to see her brothers and their families once she returned to Ohio. While she missed Arizona terribly, she regretted that the years spent there had made it difficult for her to be a part of the lives of her nieces, nephews and their growing families. The physical distance may have been great, but she always kept her family members close in heart and prayer.
Sister Ruth Ann’s family, friends and Sisters rejoice with her as she celebrates all of creation with her good God. We give thanks for her full life and all she taught us about how good God is!
Born December 1, 1926 in Hamilton, Ohio
Parents: Joseph Bange (born in Cincinnati, Ohio) and Mary Tritschler (born in Cincinnati, Ohio)
Siblings: Fr. Ralph Bange, Joseph Bange, Donald Bange, Mary Bange Fish, Dorothy Bange Duke,
Thelma Bange Ducilli
Baptized December 12, 1926 at St. Peter in Chains Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Confirmed May 26, 1937 at St. Peter in Chains Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Entered August 14, 1944 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: January 18, 1947
Final Profession: August 13, 1952
Educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at St. Peter Parish School, Hamilton, Ohio (1940) and Notre Dame High School, Hamilton, Ohio (1944)
Bachelor of Science in Education from the Athenaeum of Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio 1956
Master of Science in Biology from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana 1966
1948-1949 St. Robert Bellarmine School, Chicago, Illinois
1949-1950 St. Mary School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1950-1952 St. James School, Dayton, Ohio
1952-1955 St. Aloysius School, Columbus, Ohio
1955-1956 St. Robert Bellarmine School, Chicago, Illinois
1956-1958 Ascension School, Dayton, Ohio
1958-1960 Bishop Hartley High School, Columbus, Ohio
1960-1961 Notre Dame High School, Chicago, Illinois
1961-1966 Bishop Hartley High School, Columbus, Ohio
1966-1973 Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
1973-1985 Chaminade-Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
1985-1986 Sabbatical, Dayton, Ohio
1986-1991 Chaminade-Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
1991-1992 Transition, Mesa, Arizona
1992-1998 Co-Director of Religious Education, St. Bartholomew Parish, San Manuel, Arizona
1998-2008 Hospitality, Sisters of Notre Dame, Mesa, Arizona
2008-2009 Retired, Mesa, Arizona
2009-2015 Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died February 8, 2015
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
February 9, 2015