FREMONT — Sister Ann Louise Willman, an educator at Roman Catholic schools around northwest Ohio for 42 years and director of volunteers for what is now Mercy Tiffin Hospital for 20 years after that, died Friday in St. Bernardine Home, Fremont. She was 102.
She was in declining health, said Sister Nancy Merkle, community life coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy in Fremont. Sister Ann Louise moved in 2003 to St. Bernardine Home and later was put in charge of the rose garden there.
Sister Ann Louise began her ministry as an educator in 1938, when she was Sister Mary Josepha, with an assignment to St. Vincent de Paul School in Toledo. The next school year, she taught at Holy Angels School in Sandusky, where she returned through the decades as a teacher and principal. She was the first principal in 1950 of St. Mary’s School in Mansfield, Ohio — she also taught seventh and eighth grade — and served in that role for six years. She returned as principal for three years starting in 1960.
“She was highly intelligent, very creative, very courageous,” Sister Nancy said. No one then would have called her skill “collaboration,” she said, but Sister Ann Louise “knew how to get people to help her. She was clearly a strong administrator. She was a strong woman.”
Other assignments included Holy Angels School in Sandusky; St. Mary School in Kirby, Ohio; St. Ann School, Fremont; St. Clement School, Toledo; Ascension School in Cleveland, and a return to St. Vincent de Paul in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She closed her career in 1977 at St. Catherine in Toledo, where she was assigned for seven years through the 1960s and ’70s.
She brought her administrative expertise to Mercy Hospital, where she was first director of volunteers. She added a variety of volunteer positions, from candy stripers and surgical hostesses to deliverers of mobile meals and started the hospital auxiliary. She started a newsletter for volunteers and put together festivals, garage sales, and card parties to raise funds.
“She called people for volunteer help and nearly always got a positive response,” Sister Nancy said.
Sister Ann Louise resigned in 1997 from the Mercy staff and continued to volunteer until 2002. She remained active through gardening, sewing, crocheting doilies, and making rosaries from the beads of the Job’s tears plant.
She also became archivist for the Sisters of Mercy in the Toledo-Cleveland area, keeping track of sisters’ activities and organizing displays of the community’s history. She was a former trustee of the Sisters of Mercy Corp., then located in Fremont, and was secretary for a group of directors of volunteers.
She was born Dec. 17, 1911, in Tiffin to Lillian and Frank Willman and grew up in St. Joseph Parish. She was a graduate of Calvert High School and later was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. She also had been secretary to the alumni association. She discerned that she had a vocation and entered the community at Our Lady of the Pines in Fremont in 1933. She made a profession of first vows at the novitiate in Dubuque, Iowa.
She received a bachelor’s degree from the former Mary Manse College in Toledo and a master of education degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati.
She was preceded in death by 10 siblings, among them Sister Mary Louisa, a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in Cleveland. Sister Ann Louise had no immediate survivors, but her extended family included three generations of nieces and nephews, Sister Nancy said.
Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. today and after 9 a.m. Monday in St. Bernardine Home, Fremont, where funeral services are to begin at 11 a.m. Monday.
Tributes are suggested to the Sisters of Mercy at St. Bernardine Home.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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