By JoAnna Ness, Jun 26 2018 02:16PM
Ramona Holsinger was a celebrated figure of Steuben County, who made the world a little brighter every day of her 102 years. When she passed away on June 13, 2017, Ramona made a final demonstration of her generosity by gifting her estate to the Steuben County Community Foundation for the creation of the Ramona Holsinger Physical Education Scholarship fund. Ramona’s incredible gift of over $212,000 will establish a permanently endowed fund at SCCF. Starting spring of 2019, annual earnings from the fund will support students pursuing a career in the field of physical education.
Ramona was born June 1, 1915 in Muncie, Indiana. She attended Ball State University for her bachelor’s degree, and later received her master’s degree through Indiana University. Her passion in life was teaching, and Ramona dedicated over 35 years of her life to educating students in South Bend. For many years, Ramona was a frequent visitor to Steuben County after her parents bought a resort on Hogback Lake. When she retired, she decided to move to the community full time and became deeply involved in the Steuben County Council on Aging. Ramona was a strong advocate for the organization. She served in many positions on the board and as a volunteer, and she was still dancing at their fundraising events at the age of 101.
In addition to volunteering, Ramona loved to celebrate life. She had a birthday party each year and invited many friends and community members to share in the festivities. For Ramona’s 100th birthday, she was presented with a cake appropriately lit with 100 candles. “It looked like a fireball!” said Danette Kammeyer, who was Ramona’s friend and the Community Manager at Terrace Ridge Apartments where she lived. In addition to practicing calisthenics every morning, Ramona loved to watch the news and stayed on top of everything from politics to the latest vitamin craze shared on Dr. Oz. She loved to learn, reading poetry, novels, and the bible. Her lifetime of accomplishments was visible on a wall full of awards and accolades, culminating in a surprise gift of a key to the city presented by her friend, Mayor Richard Hickman.
Ramona became acquainted with Mayor Richard Hickman at the Steuben Council on Aging events and as a guest at her birthday party each year. “She always wanted to have a dance with the mayor. Anytime there was something at Terrace Ridge she invited me, and we became friends,” said Mayor Hickman. When he learned that Ramona had left her estate to the community, he was not surprised by the generous gift and remarked, “She’s going to be educating even after she’s gone.”
In a testament to her passion for teaching and connecting with youth, Ramona’s estate gift was advised through a former student who she knew for over 50 years. Retired Angola attorney and longtime friend, Tom Wilson, said “People who knew Ramona all had a good story about her.” Tom met Ramona as a 5th grade student and described her as a “great gal, but there was no nonsense for Miss Holsinger!”
With her bright personality, Ramona is remembered fondly by many in the community. She decided to leave her legacy in Steuben County, which had truly become her home in retirement. She knew the value of family, and although she was very independent, she created a supportive group around her. “Ramona had the unique ability to create family out of friends. She loved everything there was about teaching,” said Danette Kammeyer. “Ramona was teaching and loved teaching until the day she died. She loved kids, and being able to pass things onto them was special to her,” shared Mayor Hickman. Ramona would want the students who receive her scholarship in the future to fall in love with teaching and to embrace every individual student.
Steuben County Community Foundation is proud to honor her legacy in administering this scholarship, so Ramona Holsinger’s love for teaching can live on in generations to come.