Josephine Trueschler, a retired Notre Dame of Maryland University professor who taught English literature and writing, died of a massive heart attack June 3 at a local medical office. The Cedarcroft resident was 94.
“She was a key figure on campus when I was president,” said Sister Kathleen Feeley, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. “She was admired and respected. Her students felt she gave them the finest possible education. She had witty little sayings she used to accompany her admonitions or praise.”
Born in Baltimore and raised on Echodale Avenue in Hamilton, she was the daughter of Philip Joseph Trueschler, a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad worker, and his wife, Gertrude Cecilia Trueschler, a homemaker. She attended St. Dominic School and was a 1945 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame.
She earned a bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame of Maryland University and received her master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University.
She taught in Baltimore City Schools before joining the faculty of Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she taught from 1959 to 1998.
“She inspired students with her impassioned perspectives on literature and writing, making a lasting impression on the many lives she touched,” said a university statement.
Sister Delia Dowling, a former Notre Dame of Maryland University dean, said: “She was one of a kind. ... I was a math professor and she taught English and writing. One day we struck up a conversation and came up with a new honors course, that combined math and English. We introduced the students to writing by thinking more logically in their writing and doing creative things at the same time.”
Sister Delia also said: “Everyone loved her. She was the most talked about alumna among the English majors. She paid attention to her students and remembered them.”
Miss Trueschler received honors for her teaching. She won the 1985 Mullan Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2009 Elizabeth P. Hoisington Distinguished Alumna Award.
“For years I had heard stories about her,” said the Rev. Father F. Robert Leavitt in his eulogy. “Who didn’t? She was legendary at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she taught for 39 years. For her students, she belonged among the best teachers they ever had. ... Above her sense of course organization and classroom presentation and her intellectual gifts that went into that, I learned it was the interest and consideration she showed to the students she taught. Those qualities set her apart.”
He went on to recall her genial manner and how it affected her students: “In your mind’s eye, you can remember how she would enter the classroom as fall classes began wearing a cardigan, and how she put her books and notes on the desk, and then held your attention for the hour or two just by her love for the subject she was teaching.
“There was only one Miss Trueschler,” said Father Leavitt, former St. Mary’s Seminary and University president. “... If you earned an “A” grade from Miss Trueschler, you deserved it. But what made it even more special was that someone you considered that smart and good thought you that good as well … [She was] a dear soul who loved books and knew how to turn them into keys to unlock secrets waiting to be awakened in the minds and hearts of her students.”
The Morning Sun
She ran a book club on the school’s campus in her retirement.
Miss Trueschler also contributed essays to The Sun’s op-ed page.
In 2002, she wrote of a mild winter with little snow: “We did not spend twilight standing alone in snow-covered streets as darkness came on. The only color then is in the red-streaked lower western sky and the weathered housetops huddling toward black. The stark and lonely look of things on a snowy evening is only beautiful. Everything smells of piercing cold, but there is sometimes a whiff of wood smoke in the air. The feeling of peace and stillness and solitude falls over all, and we are never so happy to stand alone.”
“Coming to Notre Dame made all the difference in my life,” Miss Trueschler wrote in a letter of appreciation to the school’s president upon retiring. “During my first days as a freshman, I was astonished at the world the Sisters had made on that campus. Having been only a reluctant sort of ragtag student for twelve years, I was amazed to find my work taken seriously. No one seemed to notice my ignorance. Here were women who loved their work of teaching and studying with students. They were deeply happy in their vocational lives and were happy with us. ... I went to a very small college, but found it a very big place, in my day 1945 to 1949 — fewer than 500 undergraduates.”
Her niece, Jeanne Windsor, said: “She was spiritual but she was also an adventurous person. She loved nature and the seashore and just watching the ocean’s waves. She enjoyed sledding but at age 50 she took up skiing and tennis.”
Survivors include her sister, Gertrude T. Davis of Baldwin, and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass was held June 10 at Carmelite Monastery where Miss Trueschler attended religious services.