Renaissance Fund Receives Bequest from Ruth Rempe, Longtime Schreyer Assistant

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students will benefit from a $1.25 million bequest by Ruth A. Rempe, a longtime friend of the University and, for nearly 40 years, Executive Administrative Assistant to the late Penn State leader and philanthropist William A. Schreyer. Rempe, who died in August 2015, directed her support to the Renaissance Fund, which provides scholarships to the most talented students with the greatest financial need. The gift will be divided between the Renaissance endowment that Rempe created in 2002 to honor Schreyer’s daughter, DrueAnne, and a newly created endowment that the University has named for Rempe herself.

“Our family always admired Ruth as both an extraordinary professional and as a warm and affectionate friend,” said DrueAnne Schreyer, President of BDR Properties and an executrix of Rempe’s estate. “Through her work with my father and his many leadership roles at Penn State, she came to know the University well, and she felt so welcomed by this community. While none of us realized that she had made such generous plans on behalf of Penn State students, I believe that this gift is her way of honoring both my father’s commitment to the University and their shared belief in the value of education.” 

Rempe was born in 1932 in Demarest, New Jersey, where she lived throughout her life. After graduating from the Katharine Gibbs School of Secretarial and Executive Training for Women in New York City, she began a career with financial industry leader Merrill Lynch. She served as an assistant to Edward A. Pierce, one of the founders of the firm, and her career at the company also included posts with the human resources and investment banking areas. In 1972, she became the Executive Secretary to William A. Schreyer, a 1948 graduate of Penn State. Schreyer had risen through the ranks of Merrill Lynch to join its executive leadership team, and he went on to become the company’s Chairman and CEO, a post he held from 1985 to 1993. Rempe herself earned the title of Vice President of Corporate Staff at Merrill Lynch through her many years of service, which ended only with her retirement in 2011 after Schreyer’s death.

Throughout those years, Rempe managed all aspects of Schreyer’s professional life, and she also supported him in his many volunteer roles at his alma mater, including his tenures as chair of Penn State’s Board of Trustees and chair of the University’s first major fundraising campaign. After William Schreyer and his wife, Joan, created the Schreyer Honors College in 1997, Rempe continued to join them on their visits to see the new college grow into a national model for programs of its kind.

James Wiggins, a 1972 Penn State graduate in journalism and now Managing Director for Corporate Communications at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, worked closely with both Rempe and Schreyer during his own time at Merrill Lynch. He said, “Ruth was an absolutely indispensable member of Mr. Schreyer’s team, always courteous beyond measure, with a great intelligence, and extremely interested and engaged in the world around her. Mr. Schreyer included his circle of people in everything he did, including his devotion to the University, and Ruth shared his view of Penn State as an institution that could have an enormously positive influence on so many lives.”

Rempe came to know many members of the Penn State community over the years, including Carol Herrmann, now retired from her post as Senior Vice President for Administration at Penn State and currently the CEO of Kish Travel, based in State College. Rempe and Herrmann became personal friends through their many interactions. “Ruth had not had the opportunity to earn a college degree, beyond secretarial school, but she believed deeply in education,” said Herrmann. “She took Penn State as her own, even traveling as part of alumni association trips in her retirement, and she really was a member of the Penn State family.”

Rempe was also a devout Catholic, and her will included bequests to charities associated with the church as well as her gift to the Renaissance Fund. Herrmann is not surprised that all of Rempe’s estate gifts were made quietly. “Ruth was an exceedingly modest person, despite her consummate professionalism,” Herrmann said. “She never flaunted what she achieved, and she didn’t take pleasure in impressing other people. Ruth just wanted to do good, and this gift and the way it was made are completely consistent with her values.”

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Last Updated October 04, 2016