During two different periods, Sister Ruth May, OSF, ’53, ’60, blessed then-named Cardinal Stritch College with her tireless work in the Reading Clinic – as an instructor (1951-66), a clerical assistant (1979-82), and receptionist/secretary (1982-84). While her memory failed toward the end of her life, she lives on quite vividly in the memories of those who loved her and learned from her. Many gathered for her funeral Mass following her death on May 21, 2016, at the age of 89. A few shared beloved remembrances and tributes, recalling her smile, her hospitality (always a full candy dish), her love for ice cream, and her ability to make special occasions even more special.


“I was a very good friend of Sister Ruth May. How I met her was through Cardinal Stritch University. I’m an orphan. I didn’t know how to read. I didn’t know how to write. And she was a great big help to me to learn how to read and how to write.” – Richard, a former client of Stritch’s Reading Clinic


“Sister Ruth participated in all levels of our family life. When we were first married and my husband was drafted to Vietnam, and I was expecting Naomi Ruth, who is named after Sister Ruth, and Sister Ruth, my good, religious friend in her habit, came and shopped for maternity clothes with me. … She was a great gift to our life all of these years. …She just touched our lives in myriad ways – her kindness, her gentleness, her all-consuming graciousness, she wasn’t judgmental, she just was one of those people you meet and you know exudes goodness. And so I’m very grateful to have had her in my life. And I’ve had her introduce me further into the congregation since our first meeting at Cardinal Stritch University.” – Rosalie Guzman, ’69, ’94, who worked for 20 years as an associate director of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi


“Sister Ruth was just one big smile. Whenever you looked at her, all you could do is just smile back. That smile was so powerful.” – Joe, former sacristan at the Motherhouse


“I was a young principal sent out to St. Joseph’s Grafton. I didn’t know anything about being a principal and I knew less about how kids should achieve in reading. I guess Sister Ruth understood that I needed help. But I was too naïve to know I needed help. But she would test our students and she would tell me all the things that I should know about the various students in regard to reading. We’d sit up for hours at night talking about them. She was so kind, so generous with her time, never complained, never said, ‘Oh, I have so much to do.’ She just gave and gave of herself and, for that reason, I had to come today to say good-bye to Sister Ruth because she really was a very important person in my life when I was a young principal.” – Audrey, former principal


Read about Sister Ruth May’s work at Stritch and life of service at the links below:


“Our Stories” autobiographical reflection, titled “Joys of Franciscan Service,” written by Sister Ruth and published by Dr. Meneo Afonso in 1998