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The Face of Mercy

February 22, 2021
By Deb Daley

She is the voice that greets you and usually the first face you see when you come to Mercy High School.  And thanks to Sr. Johanna Burnell, RSM, Ruth Gross Harre ’76 has been a mainstay at the front office of Mercy High School for more than 30 years.

Ruth lived near Hanscom Park, so attending Mercy was the natural thing to do.  Her two older sisters, Diane Gross Harre ’69 (deceased) and Sue Gross ’71, also attended the school. 

While at Mercy she helped with the tech crew for Theatre, participated in Concert Choir and formed lasting friendships she still has today.  She did not care for Math or Science but liked English and Home Economics. 

“Mercy is like a small family.  It is a welcoming community where everyone is treated as important.”

Following graduation, she attended the Omaha College of Health Careers and became a dental assistant.  She worked for several years, got married and began raising her family of four.  However, Ruth remained active at Mercy by volunteering on the Alumnae Council.

Ingrid Kalinowski Borghoff ’65 was the Development Director and offered me a job working in her office.”

She did that for two years when Sr. Johanna made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“Sr. Johanna took a chance on me to staff the front office. I found my home. Here I get to know all the girls, their parents, teachers and staff, and it’s like one big family.”

As Office Manager, her duties range from taking daily attendance, to answering phones, managing assigned work-study students, coordinating mailings and postage accounts, supporting sports programs and much more. She also has been fortunate to serve as a chaperone on several student international trips. 

“Mercy has taught me balance and positivity. I think I learned to go with the flow here.  Whatever happens, happens.  I know I need to keep an upbeat attitude for everyone’s sake. This has been very helpful during the pandemic.  We have had to adapt, but we are still here fulfilling a vital mission.” 

Ruth’s daughter Jennifer Harre O’Neill ‘98 graduated from Mercy in 1998 and her granddaughters plan to attend the school.  In fact, at Christmas, her granddaughters dressed in their Mercy spirit wear to celebrate the holiday. 

“I love my job because Mercy is my family.” 


Posted in Featured Alumnae