Ruth Mary Perl was the youngest child of Leo and Mary Hohneck Perl, and twin sister to Sister Rita Mary Perl, born in Massillon, Ohio. The biblical blessing of “children like olive plants around your table,” from Psalm 138 was fulfilled in nine children—three boys and six girls. God called four of the girls to religious life as Sisters of Notre Dame: Ruth, Rita, Sister Mary Paulanne (deceased) and Sister Mary Lawrene (deceased).
Ruth recalled early childhood visits to St. Mary Church to pray at the Nativity scene, and eager participation in school plays and parish celebrations. High school years were spent at Notre Dame Academy, Cleveland, as an Aspirant; she became a postulant on February 2, 1953. As a teacher of intermediate and junior high students for 36 years, her creativity and artistic talent kept lessons interesting and student-centered. She was approachable and competent, and had a quiet sense of humor. Assignments included schools in Amherst, Avon, Chardon, Cleveland, Elyria, and Independence, all in the Cleveland diocese, as well as in Austintown, Canal Fulton, and Canton, in the diocese of Youngstown. Sister Ruth Mary earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from St. John College, Cleveland in 1963, and a Master’s in Education from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, in 1968.
She also ministered in schools in Arlington, Virginia, Washington, DC, and in Maitland and Winter Haven, Florida. After retiring from teaching, she spent a year at St. Gabriel School in Greenville, North Carolina, and 22 years at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Raleigh, where she served as receptionist and coordinator of the after-school program. Most recently, she volunteered at St. Helen School, Newbury, Ohio. Sister Ruth Mary had a heart for others: she sewed blankets for Project Linus, and shared her love of nature by gardening and arranging flowers for chapel. She sang in the choir, and served on many parish committees.
Upon her return to Ohio, she was happy to live with Sister Rita Mary once again, enjoying community activities and spending time with her large and loving family. In 2020, she celebrated her 65th jubilee of religious profession. Her relationship with God led her to treasure the beauty and worth of each person she met. Her life among us was a gift of love.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Ruth Mary will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 12, at 4:30 p.m., at the Sisters of Notre Dame Center, 13000 Auburn Road, Chardon, OH, 44024. The Mass will be livestreamed.