Centenarian, former Jet, conductor and educator honored by Morristown High Heritage Club

By Scott and Bill Schlosser

They say good things are worth waiting for. Rose D. Ruesch now knows that is true.

On Friday she was enshrined in the Morristown High School Wall of Fame–at the tender age of 103.

Also honored were R. Wayne Walters, who was inducted into the MHS Teachers’ Corner; and Janet W. Jones ’63, and former New York Jet James R. Jones III ‘62, who joined Ruesch as Wall of Fame members.

They were inducted in the warm and friendly confines of the school auditorium by the MHS Heritage Club, a student-run organization sponsored by the Alumni Association that promotes and protects the school’s history and heritage.  Friday’s ceremony carried forward a tradition dating to 1996.

Inductees are honored with plaques hung on the Heritage Stairs, formerly known as the Senior Stairs. Principal Mark Manning said that honoring the school’s rich history and traditions defines not only who we were, but who we are moving forward.

Photos by Scott Schlosser. Please click icon below for captions.

‘KEEP MOVING FORWARD’

Ruesch waved and smiled from her wheelchair as student Christine O’Kane explained that the 1928 MHS graduate was being honored for the virtue of perseverance.

Education and self-reliance were stressed by Ruesch’s parents, regardless of their children’s gender. Rose Ruesch was active in her school days with field hockey and the French Club, and she enjoyed ice skating.

Rose Ruesch, 103, is inducted into the MHS Wall of Fame. Photo by Scott Schlosser

Rose Ruesch, 103, is inducted into the MHS Wall of Fame. Photo by Scott Schlosser

She went on to what is now known as Rutgers Law School, getting her law degree in 1933.  There were 55 men and eight women in her graduating law class.

In 1935 , she was the first woman to pass the law board in Morris County.  She worked as an in-house attorney for Bamberger’s department store for 14 years, putting up with a lot of stereotyping and discrimination.

In 1963, after her husband passed away, Ruesch returned to school and became a kindergarten and nursery school teacher.

She also mentored and taught delinquent girls, always with the same focus her parents passed on to her: Be prepared, be self-sufficient and keep moving forward.

‘PATIENCE, PRACTICE, PASSION’

Wayne Walters, a teacher for 36 years and founder of the Morris Choral Society, has received many honors over the years, including the Governors Award.

Wayne Walters, director of the Morris Choral Society. Photo courtesy of the society.

Wayne Walters, director of the Morris Choral Society. Photo courtesy of the society.

While directing many local choral groups, he found the keys to success were patience, passion and many rehearsals, O’Kane told the audience, which included students, alumni, their family and friends, and members of the community.

Walters expressed how much he enjoyed working with so many wonderful kids and fellow teachers, and said he especially enjoyed the idea that he would forever be enshrined on the Senior Steps, which always were a place of importance and limited access.

‘HUMBLED AND HONORED’

Camille Bourland ’15 introduced  Janet W. Jones ’63 as someone involved with her school, community and church from an early age.

Jones told how her grandmother counseled her to be involved and take full advantage of all that school and life had to offer.  At MHS, Jones participated in the French Club, volleyball, softball and other sports; a  highlight was her selection to attend Girls State.

Janet W. Jones '63 is inducted into the MHS Wall of Fame by Camille Bourland '15. Photo by Scott Schlosser

Janet W. Jones ’63 is inducted into the MHS Wall of Fame by Camille Bourland ’15. Photo by Scott Schlosser

In college, she expanded her involvement with charity and the community as a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. After graduate school, she taught for a short period and, after having three children of her own, returned to the Morris School District as Director of Human Resources.

She also devoted countless hours to the Girl Scouts of Northern NJ, the Morristown Fortitude Foundation and Morristown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. At her church, she raised money for scholarships and AIDS awareness.  She said she was “humbled and honored” to be inducted by her high school alumni association.

‘THE TEAM IS STRONGER THAN THE INDIVIDUAL’

Erin Hession ’15 introduced James R Jones III ’62, known as Jimmy Jones, who told the audience how blessed he was to have strong family and friends as mentors, guiding and influencing him through life.

“MHS set the foundation to succeed,” said the former NY Jet, who emphasized the importance of never being afraid to ask for help.  “The team is always stronger than any one individual.”

Former NY Jet Jimmy Jones at his induction to MHS Wall of Fame. Photo by Scott Schlosser

Former NY Jet Jimmy Jones at his induction to MHS Wall of Fame. Photo by Scott Schlosser

He fondly remembered Ace Simmons ’49 for helping him navigate high school and keeping him out of trouble. Other coaches, teachers and friends helped him become a caring and giving person in the community.

From an All-Star sports career at MHS, he went to University of Nebraska and lettered in football, wrestling and track.

From there, Jones proceeded to the Jets, and then to a successful professional life. Setting goals and staying focused were essential, he said.

The MHS Wind Ensemble started the program with In the Forest of the King by I. Le Furet. The national Anthem and the MHS Alma Mater were done proud by Bourland and Katherine. Wrapping things up, the Wind Ensemble performed  American River Songs by Pierre La Plante.

 



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