Tribute: Newman community remembers Sister Charlotte

Mar 24, 2021

History and Newman University — two of the many passions of Sister Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC.

Just a few short weeks after the university celebrated its history and traditions with its annual Heritage Month, a series of events she crafted, helped organize and coordinated, Sister Charlotte passed on to her eternal reward.

While she is perhaps enjoying the highest of high teas, the community she leaves behind is saddened by her departure. Based on the many comments communicated through social media, phone calls and emails, Sister Charlotte made an indelible impact on her former students, current and former colleagues and many she met during her 80 years.

Below is a sampling of reactions that is representative of the many messages the university received.

“We’ve lost a legend, and will forever be grateful for Sister Charlotte’s gifts and graces.” — Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., former president of Newman University

“Charlotte was the very first person I met when I began working for the Adorers 23 years ago. She was the provincial at that time and took a risk on a single mother. Whenever I would ask her about hiring me, she would say, ‘I saw something special in you.’ I will hold that in my heart forever and I hope I never let her down. I was always amazed at Charlotte’s knowledge and wisdom but even more impressed with her great passion for Newman and her community. She was my go-to for advice and guidance because I knew she would be honest and would not sugarcoat anything. I so respected that trait even though it was sometimes hard to hear.” — Lori Benge, Adorers of the Blood of Christ, director of vocation ministry

“Sister Charlotte was a dear friend, mentor and teacher of mine from my undergrad days at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. She taught me, and many generations of her other students, what it meant to be true servant leaders. As a Catholic nun for 60 years, she was a strong, selfless, wise, tireless woman that made it her life’s work to instill in her students a deep charism for helping others and making the world a more just, better place for ALL people. To me, she was one of those few people we encounter in life who have a profound impact on our lives and to whom we owe so much for what we have done and what we have become.” — Josh Chilson ‘03 (pre-law)

“Taught a hard-core scientist the value of historical fiction through authors such as Willa Cather. A life well lived, indeed.” — Jim Macias ‘81 (chemistry)

“She was truly such an incredible woman. She will be missed dearly and her legacy will definitely live on at Newman.” — Sarah Peterson ‘18 (nursing)

“What wonderful sentiments you have shared about my dear aunt, my godmother as well. She sure was a force to be reckoned with. As at peace as she is now, I’m positive she’s a little angry that she isn’t the one planning her memorial! ?? Until we meet again Aunt Charlotte.” — Karla Jones

“My fondest memories of Sister Charlotte were the years we were faculty in the history department and shared our love of history with one another and with our students. I was amazed at how Charlotte brought history alive for the students. An example of this was her response to students’ request in 1976 to plan a bicentennial tour. Of course she did! We toured the East Coast from Boston through New York and Washington, D.C., bringing early American history alive for the students in ways that could not have happened through reading the text and hearing lectures. And we had loads of fun doing it! Another historic trip was our visit to early Pueblo ruins in New Mexico, such as the Chaco Canyon, and we also visited inhabited Pueblos, observing the distinctive Pueblo culture and arts.  This was definitely a ‘hands-on’ experience of history.

I was also privileged to travel with Charlotte during her years as alumni director to visit groups of alumni in many cities throughout the country, strengthening their ties with Newman University.  In the words of one alum on learning of Charlotte’s passing: ‘She was more than just a mentor to me; she was also a dear friend.’ She was truly a friend to her students and to all of us who worked with her. I will miss her.” — Sr. Tarcisia Roths, ASC, former Newman president 

“In everyone’s life there are those people who have enormous impact on you. Sister Charlotte was one of those people for me. We worked together on countless tasks, programs, retreats, trips and on and on. Reflecting on all we did together, I am struck with her “larger than life itself” personality. That is not to say she was not a humble team player but you knew — without any reservations — that you could count on her. She cared and you knew it. My life is immeasurably better; I am a better person because God blessed me with Charlotte in my life.

She was always there for me to answer obscure questions, to help me move to just the right story about St. Maria, to hold my hand when needed. And the amazing thing is this is just what she did for Newman University. She was always there, always supporting, always caring. I miss her so much and I know that miss will go on and on. I believe the same is true for Newman University.” — Rosemary Niedens, associate vice president of Academic Affairs   

Newman is planning “A Celebration of Sister Charlotte’s Life” for the Newman community, alumni and friends to be held 2 p.m. Sunday, April 18, on campus.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, Endowed Scholarship at