Rose Marie Seitz Hengesbach

                                                            1939 –  2021

Rose Marie championed equality, education, and opportunity and was a vanguard for important initiatives throughout her life. These passions were only surpassed by her devotion and love for her family.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1939, Rose Marie was the first child of John and Rose (Ruff) Seitz who emigrated from Bavaria, Germany in the mid 1920s. She graduated from Edgewood High School and after a gap year in Milwaukee working for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, returned to Madison and earned her bachelor’s of science degree in Upper Elementary Education at Edgewood College. She met Ted Hengesbach from Westphalia, Michigan, on a blind date at the University of Notre Dame in 1963, and they were married in the Lady Chapel at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame on June 26, 1965. The next day they took flight to Munich, Germany where they lived for a year traveling throughout Europe and teaching English language classes at the Berlitz School.
They then moved to South Bend where Rose Marie created the Women’s Center at the YWCA and served as its first director. She was a founding member of a small group that established the first Center for Battered Women in South Bend. Based on her study and work experience she testified as an expert witness before the House of Representatives committee on domestic violence. Rose Marie enthusiastically supported the Equal Rights Amendment, raising local awareness and joining marches in Chicago and DC. She was a reporter at the National Women’s Conference in Houston where she interviewed prominent activists. Rose Marie’s local volunteer work included serving as Vice President of the League of Women Voters leading voter education and government accountability efforts, and she advocated for the empowerment of women as President of the American Association of University Women. Most recently she was a member of the planning committee for LunaFest Michiana, a film festival fundraiser for two local agencies that provide services for victims of abuse.
Rose Marie continued to ply her passion for equality and opportunity as Assistant Director of Career and Placement, and then Director of Financial Aid at Indiana University South Bend. She was a prominent, vocal advocate for the federal Direct Student Loan Program and trained financial aid officers across the country in best practices. She earned her MBA at IUSB and taught courses in business management. Just a few years prior to her retirement in 2007, she created and was the first Director of Scholarships and Grants at the University.
Always up for adventure, Rose Marie reveled in travel, crisscrossing the United States and along the east and west coasts with her family, notably looking eye to eye with humpback whales in Maine, watching Denali grizzlies and glaciers calving in Alaska, and hiking with Ted from the South Rim to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to celebrate her 50th birthday, and then again years later leading the whole family. One special trip to Newfoundland included a perilous ferryboat ride in a gale, narrowly skirting icebergs on the way to Labrador. Especially memorable were trips local and abroad with grandchildren and educational tours to Japan, Israel and Palestine. She treasured visits to Madison celebrating Christmas, and savoring the best cheese and ice cream from the University of Wisconsin, and road trips visiting Ted’s awesome family in Westphalia. Regardless of where she went, she joined in a rousing rendition of “Back Home Again” when crossing the Indiana state line.
Rose Marie’s insatiable curiosity led her to devour biographies, cook books, internet articles, and the New York Times, and she shared her expert advice on cooking, obscure relevant facts, and current events. She was especially relieved and satisfied by the results of the most recent national election. She loved to discuss her international array of favorite restaurants with relish. Rose Marie could not resist the smell and taste of a fresh crunchy loaf of bead, made even better topped with her homemade strawberry, raspberry and rose petal freezer jams. She carefully surveyed farmers’ markets in South Bend and Goshen and wherever they might be found to select the freshest vegetables, fruits and mushrooms. She cultivated her beds of herbs and flowers, and especially savored the aroma and sassy look of lavender. She loved to amble the beaches of Lake Michigan finding little treasures of colored glass, crinoids, agates, shells, and driftwood. And, she collected rocks in all shapes and sizes from everywhere.
Most of all, Rose Marie (Nana) delighted in the goals and activities of her grandchildren; always engaging them with her “Mary Poppins bag” filled with wonder, exposing them to myriad smells, tastes, cultural events, gardens and museums. and encouraging each of their particular interests and whims. Rose Marie and Ted enthusiastically withstood the perils of bleacher seating to attend innumerable concerts, plays, and athletic events in all kinds of weather.
Rose Marie died in her ivy adorned home in South Bend on March 18, 2021. She is survived by her husband, Ted, son, TJ (Susan Haling); daughter, Heidi (Chuck Killion); her grandchildren, Ellen and Paxton Hengesbach; Erika (Bret Wagner), Joe and Emma Killion; by her brother, Rick and her nephews, Richard Seitz and Fred Lind; her brother-in- law, Jim Shunk, her nephew, Greg and niece, Stacy (Andy Faris ) and her sister-in-law, Harriet (Bob) Hengesbach; by many nieces and nephews, cousins and friends in both the United States and Germany. Rose Marie was preceded in death by her sister, Carol Seitz Shunk, sisters-in-law, Sue Halverson Seitz, Sister Angelica Hengesbach, Evelyn (Louis) Hengesbach, and brothers-in-law, Louis and Bob Hengesbach.
A celebration of Rose Marie’s life will be planned when hugs can be plentiful and unreserved. She will be interred at St. Mary’s Parish cemetery in Westphalia.
Donations in Rose Marie’s memory may be made to the YWCA of North Central Indiana (
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