Sister Mary Ruth Gerlach, a Sister of Mercy and an educator who later was supervisor of the Mercy Medical Center Chapel, died Sept. 4 of lung cancer at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.
She was 94.
The daughter of a real estate broker and a homemaker, Ruth Gerlach was born and raised in West Baltimore. She was a graduate of St. Cecilia's parochial school.
After graduating from Notre Dame Preparatory School in 1934, she entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1935 at Mount St. Agnes, taking the religious name of Sister Mary Raymond.
In 1954, Sister Mary Ruth earned a bachelor's degree in education from the old Mount St. Agnes College in Mount Washington.
She earned a master's degree in 1966 in religious education from the Catholic University of America in Washington.
She made her first profession in 1937 and her final profession of vows in 1942.
Sister Mary Ruth, who later took her birth name, began teaching in 1938 at the old St. Vincent's Male Orphan Asylum. From 1939 to 1940, she taught at St. Cecilia's parochial school.
She was on the faculty of St. Peter the Apostle parochial school from 1940 to 1956, when she began teaching at Immaculate Heart of Mary parochial school in Baynesville.
After teaching at Mercy High School from 1965 to 1967, she was named religious education coordinator in Denver, and later in Annandale, Va.
Sister Mary Ruth, who played the piano and taught music, had also held teaching assignments in Richmond, Va., Savannah, Mobile and Rockville.
She worked at her order's provincial house in Baltimore from 1971 until 1981, when she was named supervisor of the chapel at Mercy Medical Center.
"Sister Mary Ruth was very conscientious about taking good care of the chapel and making sure services were held on time and properly prepared for," said Sister Helen Amos, former president and chief executive of Mercy Medical Center, who is now executive chairwoman of the medical center's board of trustees.
"She was very faithful to that. We remember her as a diminutive person in stature who accomplished a lot," said Sister Helen.
"She also meant a great deal to our patients and their families. Her presence was always very reassuring to them and we were very fortunate to have Sister Mary Ruth," she said.
After stepping down as chapel supervisor in 1999, Sister Mary Ruth continued to volunteer at the hospital.
She retired to The Villa, a retirement community that her order shares with the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County.
In her retirement, Sister Mary Ruth maintained her normal routine.
"She maintained the devotions and regularity of schedule of her early community training throughout her 94 years," said Sister Margaret Downing, who is a member of the Sisters of Mercy.
"She rose very early and spent several prayerful hours before breakfast. It was not unusual to find Sister Ruth in the chapel dressed in a suit and high heeled shoes at 6 a.m. during the past several years when she rarely left The Villa."
Sister Sue Weetenkamp, who is also a Sister of Mercy, was a close friend.
"She was very talented and generous with her gifts. She was a classic woman in terms of her demeanor and dressed beautifully always," said Sister Sue.
Vera Day, who works as a driver at The Villa, transported Sister Mary Ruth when she needed to go somewhere and when she lost her sight, read to her.
"We had a wonderful friendship. Sister was very reserved and always liked keeping things on schedule," said Ms. Day. "Even though she was a perfectionist, she was outgoing and friendly."
"She used to love driving and taking day trips," said her niece, Joan Woulfe of Egg Harbor, N.J. "But her real thing was helping the poor. She gave all of her money away to the poor and the American Indians. I know because I used to write the checks."
"At the end of her life, I think she was ready to die and met her God," said Sister Sue.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered at The Villa on Sept. 8.
Also surviving are two nephews.
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