The remarkable life of Dr. Ann Schiele…
By Michael Curtin
A beautiful and fitting way to honor the life and legacy of Ann Schiele is with a reflection on the nature and capacity of gratitude.
Her kindness was evidenced by her smile.
Ann Schiele grew up in the tiny village of Sherwood, Ohio (1950 population: 554). She was the daughter of Lee Wallace and Frances Rosebella Moats, who owned and operated the only funeral home and ambulance service in the area.
This sparsely populated area of northwestern Ohio holds some of the nation’s richest agricultural soil, and long has attracted migrants to help work the fields. As a young girl, Ann observed the physical and spiritual comfort provided by her parents to many in need - and the grateful, transforming responses to it.
“My parents had a tremendous influence on my decision to care for others,” Ann recalled. “My mother was a nurse and I witnessed what she did as a nursing professional – providing unparalleled care and compassion to those in need. It wasn’t unusual for her to serve lunch to homeless men passing through on the railroad, or to be called to help nearby migrant workers who needed healthcare or help delivering a baby. My father, of course, provided transport to the nearest hospital.
Good works and generosity were her stepping stones to nursing
“My parents’ generosity and kind works confirmed that nursing was the right path for me, and I’ve never looked back.”
Her path began at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Toledo, where she earned a nursing diploma before heading to The Ohio State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Through one of her OSU classes, Ann was introduced to Mount Carmel, where she became a staff nurse in 1961.
As a young nurse, Ann walked the night-dimmed corridors of the hospital, caring for patients and developing a deep satisfaction with her chosen profession. She also developed a deep respect for the heritage of Mount Carmel and the devotion of its founders – the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Faith was her inspiration
Ann was inspired by and grateful for the faith-based example of the Sisters, whose congregation’s core values begin with a commitment to serve the needs of the poor. She did not want to be anywhere else. She would go on to serve Mount Carmel for 52 years.
After just four years of nursing, Ann’s leadership and scholarship propelled her to become an instructor at the then Mount Carmel School of Nursing. She found a passion in nursing education administration, under the mentorship and friendship of Eleanor Wilson, MSN, RN, the School’s director.
Under Eleanor’s guidance, Ann further developed her leadership skills and, in 1972, was invited to become associate director of the school. She also furthered her scholarship, earning a Master of Science in Nursing and a PhD in Higher Education at The Ohio State University.
She was forming a vision for the school with three goals – continuing its gospel-centered mission of forming nurses to “live the call” of Mount Carmel, to always be mindful of the call to serve the poor and marginalized, and to transform the school from a three-year nursing diploma program into a fully-accredited, four-year college.
Among the many Sisters who exemplified the first goal was Sister M. Josina, a nursing school graduate who became a nursing supervisor and member of the pastoral care department. At her retirement in 1976, The Catholic Times recognized her for a half-century of service to Mount Carmel. Her reaction, typical for those of her order: She simply did what her faith required. No one respected such devotion more than Ann Schiele.
This portrait of Ann was completed in 2014 to celebrate her career and retirement from MCCN.
Her vision and leadership were transformational
Ann’s second goal was achieved on March 15, 1990, when the Ohio Board of Regents chartered Mount Carmel as a four-year, degree-granting college. Later that year, Ann was appointed President and Dean, a position she held with distinction for 24 years – the longest-serving president of any college or university in Ohio.
From an initial class of 32 students in 1990, Mount Carmel College of Nursing grew into one of the largest undergraduate nursing programs in Ohio, with an average of 1,200 students annually.
Kip Sexton, assistant professor emeritus of the College, met Ann in 1964, and witnessed most of her career. “She was the driving force for getting the school transitioned into the College of Nursing. She was so passionate about the education, the students, about their learning, about their successes. That energy made it happen,” she recalled.
Growth and change added value to student experiences
Ann helped establish a diversity program and worked with faculty to initiate an RN-BSN completion program. She created the college’s board of trustees and worked with it to expand philanthropy to support academic programs and campus expansion.
In the College’s centennial year of 2003, Ann led development of its graduate program and oversaw construction of the Center for Learning and Education, which opened a year later. In 2007, the College opened a new student residence complex.
Her leadership in innovation helped establish the Mount Carmel Clinical Skills and Simulation Center in collaboration with Mount Carmel’s medical staff, partnerships with several Ohio universities, and creation of the Nursing Center for Family Health, through a partnership with Lower Lights Christian Health Center.
Kindness and joy were her superpowers
Relentless drive isn’t usually associated with kindness. But Ann Schiele was a rarity. Her brand of mission-driven relentlessness was kind, gentle, and transparent. She possessed a deep reservoir of grace, making her unceasing appeals innocent, seemingly effortless pulls on behalf of a mission she loved, and one we all should love.
Her dominant character trait spawned endless, humorous stories among Mount Carmel staff and supporters about how Ann persuaded them to take on another task, be part of another initiative, make one more gift. She also possessed a gift of wry, self-deprecating humor. The combination of these traits made her appeals irresistible.
In July 2014, as she transitioned to emeritus status, Ann told this publication: “Fifty-two years with an institution is a long time to be in one place, but I really do love Mount Carmel. I love who we are, our mission and the Sisters of the Holy Cross. It’s everything I’ve wanted in life. I feel like the luckiest person alive.”
Gratitude is a virtue too seldom practiced. Gratitude never compels. It inspires. Ann Schiele was a study in gratitude. Gratitude sings a joyful song. It was her song.
Ann’s Day of REMEMBRANCE
MCCN colleagues and friends came together on December 1, 2022, to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Ann Schiele. Mission Leader and Associate Professor Sean Lansing, PhD, shared this reflection, “This afternoon, we celebrate a unique individual who helped us dream of what is possible when generosity, love, and sacrifice are made real to build a better community. We honor a leader whose life made an indelible mark on our college and our community. Dr. Ann Schiele, whose legacy of leadership, compassion, and empowering others to excellence remains a hallmark of our approach to education.”
Ann’s family remembers her tireless dedication
Just as her parents inspired Ann Schiele, she in turn was an inspiration to her husband of 57 years, David, and their three children – daughter Cynthia Anderson and sons Michael Schiele and Eric Schiele.
One of Ann’s traits most fondly remembered by family members was her ability to find time for them, no matter how busy her professional life became.
“She was a wonderful mother to our three children,” David recalled. “She always found time to be involved in their lives and activities even if she was loaded with problems at work.” Later in her career, she was similarly dedicated to their five grandchildren.
While Ann was navigating the transition of the Mount Carmel School of Nursing to an accredited, four-year college, “as well as working on her PhD, she spent nearly every night studying after the rest of us called it a day,” David said. “Amazingly enough, she never complained.”
Michael, who now lives in Burlington, Vt., remarked, “She was always able to find the time to be there for everyone. I will never understand how she managed her tireless schedule.”
And in all her interactions, Michael added, “She made people feel special and it wasn’t an act. It was sincere. When growing up you don’t realize that not everyone has that, not until you are older and have more perspective. We were very fortunate.”
Eric, now living in Rye, N.Y., is grateful for the example of his mom’s “almost supernatural” emotional intelligence. “She made people feel like they were the most important in the world when she talked with them.”
On a humorous note, Eric recalled his mother “possibly had the worst sense of direction I’ve ever encountered. She would get lost so often looking for the fields at my soccer tournaments that my coaches, who adored her, used to call her The Pathfinder.”
Eric and Michael expressed gratitude for their mother teaching them, by showing them year after year, that a person can achieve success as both parent and professional. And do so exclusively with positive, loving energy.
Editor’s Note: The Lamp was unable to reach Ann’s daughter, Cynthia Anderson of Brunswick, Ohio, by the deadline for this article.
About Guest Author Michael Curtin
Michael F. Curtin is retired from The Columbus Dispatch, after a 38-year career as a reporter, editor and associate publisher. He also served as president, chief operating officer and vice chairman of The Dispatch Printing Company.
Curtin is beginning his seventh year on the board of the Mount Carmel Foundation. He previously served on the boards of the Mount Carmel Health System and the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. His oldest sister, Kathy, is a 1967 graduate of the then Mount Carmel School of Nursing.
Like so many supporters of Mount Carmel, he considers it his good fortune to have known and worked beside Ann Schiele to advance the many good works of Mount Carmel.