Mary Lee Bogenschutz passed away on Nov. 3, 2020 at age 91.
Loving daughter of the late Lawrence and Clara (Naber) Bogenschutz, adored sister of the late Larry Bogenschutz, survived and beloved by her sister Sue Hurley and sister-in-law Jane (Gunn) Bogenschutz, cherished aunt of Jerry (Lisa), Bob (Sue), Larry (Kathy) Hurley, Bob (Debbie), Marty (Cheryl), David (Angie), Tom (Carolyn) Bogenschutz, Beth (Don) Hornberger, Peggy (Bill) Ascue, devoted great-aunt to David, Max, Mia, Kyle, Liz, Matthew, Danny, Lauren, Anne, Kate, Keith, Jenny, Kristen, Allison, Kevin, Larry, Ryan, Dan and Robby.
Mary Lee was born in 1929 in Covington, KY. Her family then moved to Price Hill in Cincinnati where she attended St. William School. The family later moved to Coral Park Drive in Westwood. Her childhood included memorable and happy times with her extended family – time spent at grandma & grandpa’s house on Iliff Ave in Price Hill with her aunts, uncles and numerous cousins. There were family celebrations, weddings, Derby parties and bridge parties. Growing up in the close-knit Westside of Cincinnati, family remained important and throughout the years, the “cousins” were an integral part of her life.
Mary Lee was a proud graduate of Mother of Mercy High School, class of 1947. She went on to attend Our Lady of Cincinnati College to pursue a career in social work. One day, a college administrator talked to their class about the shortage of teachers and she switched her focus to teaching - thank goodness! She earned her BA in education in 1951 and later her Master’s Degree from Xavier University in 1979.
Mary Lee was hired by Fr. William Hilvert to teach at St. Ignatius School in Monfort Heights in 1951 where she began her legacy as a groundbreaking educator. “Miss Mary Lee” spent 44 wonderful years there as a teacher and then as the principal. Her career began with teaching the 3rd grade and then evolved into teaching the 6th and then 7th/8th grade, where she stayed for the majority of her remaining teaching years. She shared many stories from her early years - of class trips to Chicago, classrooms of 60+ students, starting the sports program for girls, the exploits of students and even of hearing cows mooing on the farm across the street in rural Green Township.
After 27 years in this role, she made history in 1978 by becoming the 1st lay principal at St. Ignatius when Sr. Marie Anthony retired. She loved being principal because it allowed her to interact with all of the students, as well as their families, and mentor young educators just beginning their careers. Many returned, year after year, to thank her, acknowledging that her guidance had a lasting impact on their life. One of her happiest life moments was having her sister, Sue, join the faculty at St. Ignatius where they spent 20+ years together. The faculty and staff of St. Ignatius became some of Miss Mary Lee’s closest friends. She spent many amazing years coaching, working the church festival and traveling with them.
Although she was always very focused on her teaching career, her role of aunt was also taken very seriously. When her brother Larry (also an educator) started a family, Mary Lee was overjoyed to be “Sissy” to Beth, Bob, Marty, Dave, Tom and Peggy Bogenschutz, then to her sister, Sue’s, sons, Jerry, Bob and Larry Hurley. Her nieces and nephews were her greatest enjoyment. She devoted her time to them and was always there for birthdays, outings, sports games and school events. Summer days were spent in the pool, teaching them to swim, never minding if she was splashed! Her annual Christmas parties in the party room at Diamond Oaks were highly anticipated each year as well as her legendary chocolate chip cookies and the homemade goetta she made every winter with “Nanny” – her mom with whom she lived until her mom’s passing.
As her nieces and nephews grew, married and had children, a new generation was born to lavish with her love and attention – Janes’ grandchildren; Keith, Kristen, Jennifer, Annie, Katie, Allison, Kevin, Larry, Ryan, Daniel, and Robby followed by Sue’s grandchildren; David (Stephanie), Max, Mia, Kyle, Liz, Matthew, Danny & Lauren. “Sissy” was a strong and supportive role model, well known and loved for being the most dedicated and encouraging cheerleader. She attended innumerable games/activities, school plays, parties and graduations to sing her great nieces and nephews’ praises no matter what the length or weather. She was always there to help create cherished memories - road trips to South Bend, birthday and school supply shopping, St. Ignatius festivals, Monopoly games, and afternoon swims in the Regency Ridge pool followed by walks to Zip Dip for ice cream. Christmas was one of her favorite times of year, taking the great nieces and nephews shopping and only heading home after being dragged away from Macy’s which always included a stop at Bob Evans. She made life fun with her fondness for lottery tickets and card games and always had time, and often a $20 bill (between you and me “wink”), for her great nieces and nephews. She was treasured by all for her unconditional support and was proud of her role as “Bonus Grandma” or “Fairy Godmother”.
Mary Lee’s retirement in 1995 may have marked the end of her employment at St. Ignatius, but not her love of its community. She had made lifelong friends and taught countless students who turned into family. She relished hearing of their scholarships, job promotions and successes. For the rest of her life she ran into her former students, received letters and phone calls from them and attended dinners and reunions. She was always overjoyed to reconnect, never forgot a name and considered them all friends.
She didn’t slow down in her retirement years, serving on the board of Regency Ridge, the Bayley Board of Directors, Archdiocesan Pension Board, State Evaluation Committee, and as a hospital volunteer while never missing an opportunity for breakfast at Bob Evans with Barb and Carol. Her decision to move in with her sister Sue was the start of many happy years and shared experiences. From Regency Ridge to Bayley, the Bogenschutz sisters took the world by storm, quickly becoming interested and involved in the many lives they crossed and actively participated in the many happenings at Bayley. Frequently mistaken for twins, they certainly both shared a genuine concern for people and spread positivity to their lifelong friends and family. Daily visits, meals, Saturday Mass, Bayley activities and dinner with other residents only made their bond stronger. Mary Lee was also an avid Reds fan who would never turn down a trip to the ballpark.
Whether you called her Sissy, Sis, Mary Lee or Miss Mary Lee, she truly impacted the lives of family, friends, neighbors, countless school staff, teachers, students, and parents. With a smile on her face and glimmer in her eye she would share with you the tales of those whose lives were a part of what made her who she was. She never forgot a person’s name or their story, in some cases knowing multiple generations of families. Her kind heart and unwavering, supportive spirit will continue to live on in the many lives she touched.
A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Ignatius Church at 5222 N Bend Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45247 on Nov. 10, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. which will also be live-streamed at sainti.org. Donations may be made to Bayley Place Endowment Fund or charity of your choice.