When you meet Ruth Pralle you know she has a story to tell. At the age of 96, she carries herself with the dignity and pride of a woman who has seen much in her lifetime. In fact, Ruth’s story is very similar to that of Concordia’s—witness to change, steadfast in mission and vision, and always remaining committed to the Lord and to the people and values that shape our world.
While a Seward alumna, Ruth’s connection to Concordia began with her father, a 1910 graduate back when the school was known as Addison Normal School located in Addison, Illinois. Ruth attended full-time summer school in 1937 and 1938 in addition to taking summer courses throughout the years; even taking some from her father during his years teaching summer school at the University.
Ruth’s husband Rev. Frederick H. Pralle taught religion at the River Forest campus from 1956-1963, also becoming the first public relation’s officer for the University. It was during that time that Ruth began her Auxiliary membership, 1957 to be exact. The Concordia University Auxiliary has existed since 1934, with the purpose to provide service and financial support to further the institution’s mission. Ruth has embodied that purpose, having contributed to the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical well-being of Concordia and its students for 55 years. Today Ruth is still active, serving as treasurer after having served in other officer capacities.
Ruth’s love for Concordia and its students remains as she honors her husband and his time teaching at Concordia through the creation of the Rev. Frederick H. and Ruth D. Pralle Scholarship Endowment. The endowment encourages the promotion of good church music in our congregations and gives students the opportunity to preserve our musical heritage in preparing organists and choir directors for the future.
Through the Auxiliary and general visits to campus, Ruth is a familiar face to many of us. One could easily wonder what would spark her to drive 22 miles from her home just to drop off some papers.
Or after so many years of volunteerism how she is able to sustain active leadership roles. But to those of us who know Ruth, the answer is undeniable: she is a special person holding dear a special place.
Outside of Ruth’s long-standing service to the University, she has always been committed to church and community, having been a Lutheran educator for 39 years; church organist since 1935; former ESL teacher for Dr. Martin Luther Church in Summit, Illinois; current choir director for Zion Lutheran Church in Chicago and Luther Village in Arlington Heights, Illinois; and current historian for the NID LWML.
Not only does Ruth exemplify the depth of the Concordia connection, she is also a true example of how the legacy of a loved one can be carried on through the Concordia mission. Contact us today to discuss how to continue your family legacy.