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Ann Marita Woodruff

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Ann Marita Woodruff Obituary
Woodruff, Ann Marita (nee MIchenfelder), distinguished teacher and director of theatre arts at Webster University until her retirement in 1998, died February 17, 2014. Marita was born in St. Louis, Missouri, December 7, 1927, to the late Ruth and Albert Michenfelder, the second of five children. She grew up in Webster Groves, attended Webster Groves High School and received her bachelor's degree in theatre arts from Webster College (now University) in 1949. She joined the Sisters of Loretto that year and later taught high school in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After earning her master's degree in theatre in 1959 at St. Louis University, Marita joined the Webster College faculty and chaired the Theatre Arts Department from 1959 to 1969. As a Sister of Loretto, Marita was one of the first nuns to study at Yale Drama School and the first member of a religious order to join the Actors Equity Association. She was a key collaborator in plannng the design for the construction in 1966 of the LorettoHillton Center for the Performing Arts on Webster's campus. The facility is now home to The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, as well as the site of the university's theatre arts department. Marita later relinquished her vows as a nun and remained a comember of the Loretto community. She continued teaching at Webster University until her retirement. In 1973, she married Robert Woodruff, M.D., who died in 1976. She was a devoted stepmother/grandmother to Cate Woodruff (David Van Teighem) of New York City and daughter, Zoe, and to Jay Woodruff (Sarah) of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and children Joe, Anne and Sam. During her teaching career, Marita directed more than 90 productions and was recognized with several awards, including the Medal of Excellence by the American College Theatre Festival in 1977 and 1982; The Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992; and The Excellence in the Arts Award from the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis in 1998. In addition to her parents and husband, Marita was preceded in death by two brothers, Albert Michenfelder of St. Louis and John Michenfelder, M.D., of Rochester, Minnesota. She is survived by a brother, Joseph Michenfelder (Laurine Glynn) of Rhinebeck, New York, a sister, Mary Phelan (Gerald) of St. Louis, 16 nieces and nephews and 37 grand nieces and nephews. Marita was greatly loved by all who knew her. She will be deeply missed by her family, friends, former students and colleagues. Services: A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 22, at 1:30 p.m. in the Winifred Moore Auditorium at Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood, Webster Groves, MO, 63119. The family expresses their profound gratitude to Parc Provence and Heartland Hospice for their kind, compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome to the Sisters of Loretto, Loretto Development Office, 4000 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80123; or to the Marita Woodruff Scholarship, Theatre Arts Department, Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood, St. Louis, MO 63119.

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Feb. 23, 2014
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