Sister Ruth M. Penksa, GNSH, died Dec. 28, 2016, in the Burn Treatment Unit of Erie County Medical Center from injuries sustained in a fire at her apartment building. She was 82.
She was born May 18, 1934, in Buffalo, to Michael and Sophie (Urbaniak) Penksa. She received a bachelor's degree in Spanish from D'Youville College in Buffalo in 1962 and taught English and Spanish for four years before joining the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1967. Sister Ruth also served an executive secretary for the Foundation for International Cooperation, a student exchange program with Latin America.
Sister Ruth went on to teach Spanish at Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo and D'Youville College, also serving as principal of Immaculate Conception School in Eden and as a parish minister at All Saints Parish in Buffalo. From 1982-2007, she served in campus ministry at Erie County Community College. ECC awarded Sister Ruth an Outstanding Achievement Award for her contributions to the school in 1988.
Outside of the Diocese of Buffalo, Sister Ruth also taught at elementary schools in Pennsylvania and in New York City. In 1994, she began serving as a Spanish instructor at ECC in addition to her service in campus ministry. She retired in 2007, but continued teaching Bible study and participating in radio reading for the blind. She also advocated for the pro-life movement and was the author of two books.
She is survived by two brothers, Thomas (Irene) and Michael (Kathy) Penksa, as well as nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass was held at Assumption Church in Buffalo, with burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kenmore.