Sister M. Robert Ann von Ahnen, IHM

Sister M. Robert Ann von Ahnen, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Thursday, December 16, 2010, at her home in Scranton. 

She was born on May 17, 1939 in Brooklyn, NY and given the name Elizabeth. She was the daughter of the late Kurt and Anna Milavec von Ahnen. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1963 and made her temporary profession of vows on June 27, 1966 and her final profession of vows on August 29, 1971.

Sister Robert Ann’s career in education began at Marywood Seminary in 1966. The following year she began teaching at Marywood College (now Marywood University). In 1969 she went to St. Mary of the Mount High School in Pittsburgh, PA, where she taught for two years. In 1972 Sister returned to Marywood College where she served as a professor of mathematics for thirty-seven years. Following retirement from Marywood University, she served as a teacher at the IHM Education Enrichment Institute in Scranton, PA.

While at Marywood University, Sister Robert Ann served as the advisor for Kappa Mu Epsilon, the math honor society, and for the mathematics club. For many years she was class moderator and alumni association advisor. For more than a quarter century she organized the annual math contest, bringing to campus nearly 400 students from twenty area high schools. She was active in the NEPA Council of Teachers of Mathematics and for numerous years oversaw selection of the area’s most outstanding high school math student. She was a charter member of the local math educators’ association. 

She received a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree in education from Marywood College and a master of science degree in mathematics from New Mexico State University.

She was preceded in death by two brothers, William and Thomas.

She is survived by a brother, Robert of Forest City, PA; nine nieces and nephews; and ten grandnieces and grandnephews.

The funeral will be Monday, December 20, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at the IHM Center on Sunday, December 19, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:30 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Monday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.

Reprinted from "In Memoriam" section of Journey, Spring 2011 issue

To Sister Robert Ann, people mattered: her widowed mother Anna, her three brothers, Bob, Bill, and Tom, her nine nieces and nephews,
her classmates at Forest City High School and Marywood University, her colleagues, students, and IHM sisters. She valued friendship and
kept in touch faithfully by letter and specially chosen cards. Sister was transparent, steadfast, and loyal, living with rare intellectual curiosity,
zest, and enthusiasm for life. She delighted in knowing her students personally and in encouraging them to thrive.

Her stamp as an educator, moderator, advisor, and colleague was original and unmistakable. For eight summers she directed Mary
Carroll Lodge, a vacation venue for severely disabled adults in Pawling, NY. She created a wonderful vacation ambiance, empowering
guests to feel free and normal. At the same time “Sister Bob” inspired her young staff, teaching them profound respect for the courage and human dignity of the guests. She also taught them how to create outrageous fun and boisterous laughter.

In later years, diabetes, double amputations, and dialysis challenged some cherished activities but not Robert’s determination. She was a
fierce believer in independence and human dignity. She refused to be defined by illness and limitation, and she refused to limit the freedom, the dreams, and the aspirations of others.

by Kathryn Kurdziel, IHM