News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 11, 2013

Former SMWC President Knoerle dies

College’s 12th leader served from 1968 to 1983

TERRE HAUTE — Sister Jeanne Knoerle’s legacy may be difficult to summarize, but a close friend believes it will be “her love for people, her love of service to the community and her desire to make the world a better place.”

Sister Jeanne, the 12th president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, died early Monday morning at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, where she resided. She was 85.

She served as the college’s president from 1968 to 1983 and remained active in many community groups and activities in Terre Haute.

“Sister Jeanne’s passing is a profound loss, not only for the entire college community, but also in the Wabash Valley community, where she was highly respected,” said Dottie King, the current president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. “Her work was always groundbreaking. I, as others, found her to be energetic, visionary and positive — always positive. To me she was a treasured friend, a trusted confidante and a mentor. I will miss her greatly.”

When King served as interim SMWC president after the departure of former president David Behrs, it was Sister Jeanne who encouraged her to apply for the permanent position. Until then, King had no aspirations of becoming the next president.

“She was a genuine friend and kind of like a cheerleader; she was always so willing to listen to my ideas,” King said. Sister Jeanne had a generosity of spirit and “really lifted other people up.”

King and Sister Jeanne had continued to meet monthly.

Sister Jeanne was honored in 2012 as part of the first group of Wabash Valley Women of Influence, a new recognition program for women who have blazed new trails and left a mark in the community.

One highly successful program instituted during her tenure was the Women’s External Degree program (now known as Woods Online). It was the second distance degree program in the country and was on the cutting edge of providing opportunities for women to attain educational goals.

“There were so many women who couldn’t finish college for whatever reason, and it made such a difference,” Sister Jeanne said in a 2012 interview.

Now, Woods Online is open to both men and women.

Sister Jeanne also served as a consultant to the religion division of the Lilly Endowment and worked to establish Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability in Terre Haute. “One of my most important interests is to encourage persons to become aware of how we can better our environment for future generations everywhere,” Sister Jeanne stated in 2012.

Lorrie Heber got to know Sister Jeanne well through Heber’s involvement with Our Green Valley Alliance; Sister Jeanne asked her to serve as the organization’s president.  

“I miss her already,” Heber said Monday. “She was a good friend and a great mentor. I’m just sick.”

Sister Jeanne had worked in various capacities in the community and saw many improvements over the years, Heber said. But one thing that continued to frustrate her was the lack of awareness related to sustainability and environmental issues, Heber said.

Sister Jeanne had a vision and brought together community leadership. Ultimately, Our Green Valley Alliance was formed. The group is devoted to enhancing sustainable practices in the community now and for future generations. Currently, it is working on Vigo County’s first sustainability plan that will recommend various actions.

“She’s such a visionary, and her work through the Church and her congregation really had her focus on things that matter in life,” Heber said.

Sister Jeanne wasn’t afraid to tackle difficult tasks, and she “wasn’t afraid to use the power of her position or former position to tap into the players that could make things happen,” Heber said. “She was fearless that way. She had a vision, a mission through God and she went after it.”

Heber described it as “a sad day.”

Fred Nation, who worked for Sister Jeanne six years at The Woods — as director of public relations and then as vice president for development — stated that the former college president “showed exceptional skill, leadership and wisdom in leading the college through one of its most challenging periods. She made the difficult decision to start the WED program that saved the college,” he stated. “She was the right leader for a period of dramatic change in education and the congregation.”

Nation saw Sister Jeanne on Friday, talked with her, saw her smile and hugged her for the last time. “I will carry her memory with me and hope to represent some of the many good things she stood for,” he wrote in a Sister of Providence blog post honoring her.

Dave Bailey, who has served on the college’s board of trustees, said Sister Jeanne “epitomized what St. Mother Theodore Guerin stood for and what the Sisters of Providence currently stand for.”

A close friend of Sister Jeanne’s, Sister Jean Fuqua, described the former college president as “a great lady. She enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest right to the very end.”

There was no indication Sister Jeanne was not feeling well; she suffered a heart attack and “went very quickly,” Fuqua said.

Fuqua was a vice president for student affairs and vice president for development during Sister Jeanne’s tenure as college president.

Fuqua said she and Sister Jeanne did many things together, including traveling and birding. They both volunteered as drivers to transport other Sisters of Providence who needed to go to the doctor. “She enjoyed serving others,” Fuqua said. “I will miss her greatly.”

Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, said Sister Jeanne “was always committed heart and soul to whatever ministry she was assigned.”

The accomplished former president also “was a woman of very deep prayer. She was always exploring deeper ways to pray and to know God more deeply and intimately,” Wilkinson said.

Sister Jeanne remained active until the end, serving as a reader at Mass on Sunday and later that day participating in the Sisters of Providence Family Day.

She worked the popcorn booth and a sustainability obstacle course for children. “She kind of ended up wherever she was needed,” Wilkinson said.

On Saturday, Sister Jeanne had worked with Fuqua at St. Joseph Lake [on Sisters of Providence property] to get it ready for the Sisters of Providence to use this summer.

One thing Sister Jeanne always stressed was the importance of adapting to change. “I’ve often heard her say we could count on times changing,” so it was up to the college — and the congregation — to find the best ways to change to meet the needs of the times, Wilkinson said.

“She had great confidence we would do it,” Wilkinson said. “She trusted in Providence this was the path marked out for us — and we were given the gift to walk that path.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or




Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • MET 070914 GARDEN 01LARI.jpg Plentiful harvest

    Along the southern bank of Otter Creek near Clinton Street, across the street from North Terre Haute Christian Church, some rocky soil has proven to be fertile ground for new seeds.

    July 12, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • MET 071014 GARDEN 01DIEMER.jpg Meeting need for fresh foods

    There’s something about watching a zucchini go from seedling to soup that is satisfying for Jean Diemer.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • MET 071214 60 YEARS.jpg Celebrating 60 years of pride at Hulman Field

    The buildings may have changed, and the mission has certainly changed, but the pride remains the same when those celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard came together Saturday at Hulman Field.

    July 12, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET071214 treasure sign.jpg Treasure-hunters forced in doors

    Rain on a Saturday morning can be a big bummer for yard sales.

    July 12, 2014 5 Photos

  • Tank wiring said to be cause of oil-field fire

    An electrical short has been blamed for a Friday night fire at the Pinnacle Exploration oil field on Fruitridge Avenue south of Hulman Street.

    July 12, 2014

  • MET071114  St bens ellis.jpg Annual St. Ben’s community festival kicks off

    The St. Ben's Community Festival kicked off Friday night and continues from 5 p.m. until midnight today.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 071114 DELISH GREENE.jpg Adding to the mix

    The mix of local food choices will get a fresh stir in the near future, as a café opens a second location, a pizza place moves downtown and a national chain sprouts in two more spots.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET071114 guard bennett.jpg Shift from jets to intelligence

    Loud, impressive fighter jets once zoomed regularly across the sky in Terre Haute, their roars drowning out the sounds of televisions and telephones all around the area.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos 2 Stories

  • MET 071114 MANN P.C..jpg Candidates’ views clash over more education testing, vouchers

    Indiana needs to change direction to improve education, said Democrat Jim Mann, who will face incumbent Rep. Robert Heaton, R-Terre Haute, in a rematch race for Indiana House District 46.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET071114bad check.jpg Fraudulent checks with an extra ‘t’

    A Terre Haute woman who received a large check in the mail this week wants to warn others that though the check looks legitimate, it is a scam.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Truck, van collide, stopping some U.S. 41 lanes for an hour

    Northbound traffic on U.S. 41 south of Terre Haute was blocked for about one hour Friday because of a two vehicle crash.

    July 11, 2014

  • Indianapolis closing nightlife street on weekends

    Indianapolis officials will close the main street through a nightlife district to motor vehicles on Friday and Saturday nights to reduce violence there.

    July 11, 2014

  • Man revives 3-year-old who was face down in pool

    Authorities in central Indiana say a man revived his 3-year-old son after spotting the boy face down in an apartment complex pool.

    July 11, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 11, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.

    July 11, 2014

  • New exhibits set to open at Red Skelton museum

    VINCENNES (AP) — Events are being planned for the opening of new exhibits at the museum celebrating the career of the late comedian Red Skelton in his southwestern Indiana hometown.

    July 11, 2014

  • Solar Roadways_Morg.jpg 10 Things to Know for Friday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • council mtg 013.JPG Mayor: City will not file bankruptcy

    The Terre Haute City Council took well more than  an hour to ask questions and discuss the health of the city’s finances with top city officials in a special meeting Thursday night. A few councilmen expressed grave concern about the financial picture, while Mayor Duke Bennett said things were improving.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • State official threatens prosecution of city leaders who talk about audit

    A state official has threatened to pursue the prosecution of city officials if they violate a confidentiality agreement signed last month.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET 071014 181 02EXPO.jpg ISU, 181st Intelligence Wing show off capabilities at expo

    Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments

    An agreement has been reached to keep surplus military equipment rolling into rural fire department bays in Indiana and 47 other states.

    July 10, 2014

  • united way.jpg UW kicks off pilot campaign

    Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071014 181 HILL.jpg Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential

    Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Stunt performer scheduled to be at Wigwam

    A celebrity stunt man named Jim “Crash” Moreau is scheduled to perform at Terre Haute’s Wigwam Skate and Event Center on Saturday.

    July 10, 2014

  • Rain barrels offered for sale

    The Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for 55-gallon rain barrels.

    July 10, 2014

  • Ash.jpg Tips lead to meth lab bust

    Two people were arrested after police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab Thursday in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • 071014 meth lab items.jpg Police bust meth lab in Terre Haute

    Police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab today in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • UPDATE: Ethics panel approves $5K fine against Bennett

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s State Ethics Commission has approved a $5,000 fine against former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett for using state resources in his 2012 campaign.

    July 10, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 10, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.

    July 10, 2014

  • Group: 5,000 same-sex marriages in Illinois

    A survey indicates thousands of same-sex couples are marrying in Illinois.

    July 10, 2014

  • Study: Hunting restores forests in state parks

    A study by a Purdue University research team has found that regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks have helped restore forests damaged by too many white-tailed deer.

    July 10, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City Israel Widens Attack As Gaza Death Toll Rises Raw: Militants, Israelis Exchange Rocket Fire Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Raw: Rebel Leader Weds in Eastern Ukraine Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Raw: Sirens Blare Over Jerusalem WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme Raw: Protesters, Israeli Security Forces Clash More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande
NDN Video
Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010