Ruthanne Beighley and Bill Steger were not necessarily looking for love while serving on the board of directors of the Catholic Foundation of Northwest Pennsylvania, but they soon found out God puts you exactly where you need to be.
Ruthanne joined the Catholic Foundation board in 2016. Early in her tenure she established the Monsignor Edward J. Zeitler Endowment, named for a beloved pastor and friend. Ruthanne served for several years as chair of the board, with her third year starting in 2021.
Bill Steger was introduced to the Catholic Foundation when he created the Bill and Joy Steger Family Endowment in 2020, shortly following the death of his wife of 54 years. He was invited to join the board of the Foundation in January 2021 and became the treasurer soon after.
Though Ruthanne and Bill were now both serving on the board, virtual meetings during that time of pandemic precautions meant they did not meet in person until the board meeting in April 2021. Bill found an empty seat next to Ruthanne, who was “very nicely dressed and bejeweled.” He sat down and introduced himself. While talking, they found out they were both widowed around the same time in 2020. At the end of the meeting, Bill walked Ruthanne to her car. This began a pattern at the board and executive committee meetings they attended. They would sit together, talk, and then Bill would walk Ruthanne to her car.
The next shift in their relationship occurred when, before a meeting, Bill showed Ruthanne a music video about losing a loved one. Ruthanne was touched, and she now knew they shared an interest in music. In response, Ruthanne invited Bill to come to Sunday Mass on August 22nd at Notre Dame Parish in Hermitage where she is a music minister. She also invited him to lunch afterward. Bill asked Ruthanne to let him think about her invitation for a few days, and later responded “yes.” This led to them enjoying a day of sunshine and laughter together. A September 2nd reception for Catholic Foundation donors provided an opportunity for Bill to invite Ruthanne to spend the day in Erie with him before attending the event, going out to lunch and seeing Presque Isle and downtown.
After that, they were in contact every day, talking a couple of hours most evenings. Ruthanne says, “All of the hours on the phone, in addition to our dates and meetings, had revealed our growing love for each other! I don’t think either of us had ever imagined falling in love again, but we surely did!” Bill adds, “We were both persons of faith who had love to give one another.” In October, they decided to get engaged and plan a wedding Mass. The October 18th board meeting they attended couldn’t end quickly enough because they had planned to shop for an engagement ring as soon as it was over!
During this whole time, they had not revealed the nature of their relationship to anyone else on the board or to the staff of the Catholic Foundation. Ruthanne recalls at least one instance of Bill driving her to a meeting and getting curious looks, but other than that, there were no suspicions. At the November board meeting, Bill surprised all in attendance, including Ruthanne, by asking everyone to remain at the end for two additional items of “new business.” First, he presented a donation to Lisa Louis, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation, in honor of Ruthanne’s three years as chair of the board and designated for the endowment Ruthanne established. He then announced, “the treasurer of the board and chair of the board are engaged!” Bill remembers there was “silence for a few seconds…then a gasp…then applause!”
Once the decision was made to get married, the right time to do so was serendipitously presented to them. Ruthanne was traveling in January and March, and they didn’t want to wait until after Easter in April. Bill asked Ruthanne, “What are you doing in February?” and they decided on February 12, 2022, the closest Saturday to Valentine’s Day. They were married at Ruthanne’s home parish, Notre Dame, with Father Richard Allen as the celebrant and Father John Hindman and Father Frank Cristina as concelebrants. Following the Mass, a reception was held at the Tara Country Inn in Sharon, followed by a honeymoon to Florida and a second honeymoon to St. Maarten in March.
Lisa Louis feels a special connection to them. “We muse about how their service to the Foundation board brought them together, how they were led to one another. It’s a beautiful thing,” she says, smiling. “I was delighted to celebrate with them at their wedding and continue to feed off of the joy that spills over from them as a happy, faith-filled couple.”
Ruthanne and Bill have spent their first year of marriage traveling, both outside the country and between Bill’s home in Erie and Ruthanne’s home in Sharon. “Bill asked me early on what I was looking for in a man and I answered, ‘someone to go to Mass with,’” Ruthanne concludes. “God smiled on me!”
Congratulations, Ruthanne and Bill, on your first wedding anniversary!
Would you like to honor Ruthanne and Bill with a gift to the endowments they established?
Ruthanne Beighley established the Monsignor Edward J. Zeitler Endowment in 2018 to honor a special priest in her life. Partnering with the Catholic Foundation to create an endowment provided the “lasting tribute” that she wanted. She was also able to designate as beneficiaries the three parishes that “Monsignor Z” served and whose ministries he fostered and loved.
Bill Steger established the Bill and Joy Steger Family Endowment in 2020 and joined the board of directors not long after. With its Catholic mission Bill says serving on the board of the Catholic Foundation “feels like home. Faith is not separate from what I do. It’s part of my life, my identity.”