Connie (Constance) Ruppenthal, age 66, a resident of Slinger, passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on Dec. 23, 2012, at the Aurora VNA Zilber Family Hospice in Wauwatosa.
Connie was born Feb. 6, 1946, to Joseph and Clara Babitz in Menominee, Mich., and raised in Sheboygan, where she graduated from South High School in 1964. Always excelling in academics, Connie went on to earn her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and master’s degree at National Louis University. Connie began her teaching career in Madison at Gompers Elementary, then worked as staff consultant for the Great Rivers Teacher Center in La Crosse, and since 1981 worked for the Slinger School district, teaching fifth, sixth, and eighth grades, finally settling at second grade where she stayed for over twenty five years until her retirement in September 2012.
As a lifelong learner, Connie availed herself of new and emerging knowledge and technological developments in her field, attending countless workshops and seminars over the years through Cardinal Stritch University. In particular, she embraced technology and greatly enjoyed its many applications to everyday classroom teaching and as the technology “go to” person for fellow staff. Connie had an enduring passion for teaching, considering it both her life’s work and hobby. She served on numerous district and school committees; always working toward making the school the best it could be, caring deeply about the academic growth of children.
Connie’s other passion in life was motherhood. She raised and is survived by two wonderful and musically talented children, Christopher Ruppenthal (Adria and daughter Addie) of Madison, and Amanda Stein (Jeremy) of Glendale. She identified and cultivated their unique gifts as children, and watched with pride as they grew into talented musicians and successful adults. Connie consistently attended their musical performances over many years, treasuring time with them more than anything else. When they were children, Connie often traveled to Michigan, joining with her sister Stephanie’s family in memorable journeys to such locations as Mackinac Island, Traverse City, Colonial Williamsburg, and Washington, DC. Her favorite Wisconsin destinations included Madison and Door County, where she vacationed numerous times, most recently this summer with her children, and in October with three of her dearest friends.
Connie dealt with her pancreatic cancer diagnosis with equanimity, courage, and resolve. Never considering herself a “statistic,” she lived each day fully and did whatever she could to get through each necessary treatment, always with the focus of getting back to her much-loved classroom.
Connie was preceded in death by her parents and brother John. Besides her children, she is survived by sisters Elaine Babitz of Madison, Stephanie Minerath of Dexter, Mich., and Nancy Lyke also of Dexter, who Connie considered her third sister. She is further survived by loving nieces Rebecca Minerath of Chicago and Emily Minerath of Madison, as well as numerous friends.
Connie’s family gratefully acknowledges the entire staff of the Slinger School District who provided unwavering and loving support in countless ways over the course of Connie’s illness. Cutting edge care was provided with skill and compassion at University of Wisconsin Cancer Center and Froedert Cancer Center and Hospital. In her final stage of life, the Zilber Hospice offered a caring, hospitable and peaceful environment for Connie and all of her loved ones.
A funeral/memorial service in celebration of Connie’s life will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 3, at the Phillip Funeral Home Chapel in West Bend, with the Rev. Matthew Short of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Slinger officiating. Visitation will begin at 3 p.m. with service following at 5:30 p/m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Connie’s name be sent to the Aurora VNA Zilber Family Hospice, 1115 N. Honey Creek Parkway, Wauwatosa, Wi. 53213 or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at http://www.pancan.org.
The Phillip Funeral Home of West Bend is assisting the family. (262) 338-2050/ www.phillipfuneralhome.com.