Facebook IconInstagram IconSpotify

School experiences lead to lifelong friendships

Meet our donor Dr. Leroy Ortmeyer

Dr. Leroy Ortmeyer and his wife.Dr. Leroy Ortmeyer clearly remembers his mother taking him to St. Francis de Sales, for the start of Kindergarten. Trepidation kept young Leroy from leaving his mother’s side to enter the school. When a School Sister of Notre Dame opened the door and said, ‘Leroy, there are a whole bunch of kids in here that want to play with you,’ the magic words had been spoken. The young Leroy ran inside, and the sister closed the door. For the next 13 years, Dr. Ortmeyer would spend his educational years learning all that he could from the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

In high school, Sister Alphonsella Switalla was Dr. Ortmeyer’s homeroom teacher. She was also the most influential with assisting him in his future career. Sister Alphonsella had a brother, Father Switalla, who was Dean of the St. Louis Medical School, a place she felt Dr. Ortmeyer should strongly consider. Upon graduation, Dr. Ortmeyer went to St. Louis University, St. Louis University Medical School and then into the Air Force from 1959-1961. After he got out of the Air Force, he started seeing SSNDs in his doctor’s office.

“It quickly became apparent that it would be easier if I would go down to the convent,” said Dr. Ortmeyer. “I would see the sisters at Ripa for however long it took. I met some really wonderful people there.”

The mission of education speaks to John, who opened the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He has also released many cookbooks as part of Chef John Folse & Company Publishing and has won numerous awards as part of his culinary research team. He credits his success with the gifts that God has bestowed upon him and feels the sisters’ help bring those gifts to the forefront.

From the mid 1960’s until his retirement in 1994, Dr. Ortmeyer visited Sancta Maria in Ripa on Tuesdays as the “house physician.” Throughout the years, Dr. Ortmeyer and Sister Alphonsella Switalla remained in close contact until her passing. After retiring from active practice, Dr. Ortmeyer became a medical director at United Health Care until he was 70. He then worked part time at St. Anthony’s in quality control. He was their employee health physician where he worked with medical records until he was 84, when he retired again.

“I would tell all donors that if they want to contribute to an organization that came over here to educate women, I can’t think of anything better,” said Dr. Ortmeyer.

Story featured in donor newsletter Vol. 1 2018.

Back to "Meet Our Donors."


Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



© 2022 School Sisters of Notre Dame