Ruth and Willis Piehl Educational Award

Under the Ruth & Willis Piehl Educational Awards program, all LSS employees (except those in a PRN status) may be eligible to receive up to $500 per year in educational assistance for any schooling that will enhance their career options at LSS. The Piehl Educational Awards cover tuition costs (for GED, English as a Second Language, and certification programs), as well as books, supplies, and fees.

Who are Ruth and Willis Piehl?

The Ruth and Willis Piehl Educational Awards honor the memory and legacy of Ruth and Willis Piehl who devoted their lives in service to others, especially through education and care for older adults.

Born and raised in a North Dakota farming community, Ruth Bruhschwein and Willis Piehl were married in 1945. After leaving farming, Willis became a hospital administrator in Wyoming. In December 1955, he became Administrator of the Lutheran Altenheim Society of St. Louis that was a pioneer in providing chaplaincy, social work, and a variety of health care services and living arrangements for older adults. What Lutheran Senior Services is today stems from The Lutheran Altenheim which became a part of LSS in 1996.

Willis was a local and national leader in advancing church-related and nonprofit care for older adults. He helped found the American Association of Homes for the Aging, the leading national organization in the field, and was the founder and first president of both the Missouri and St. Louis Associations of Homes for the Aging. He was highly active in Lutheran social service organizations, and served on the Policy Committee of the Lutheran Social Service System.

After years devoted to raising four sons and to service at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Ruth earned a degree in education from Harris Teachers College in St. Louis. She then taught elementary grades and reading, first at River Roads Lutheran School and then in the Riverview Gardens schools. She remained active in numerous church programs and organizations, including Sunday School, missions, and altar service. During her years at Laclede Groves she engaged in educational programs, chaplaincy training, Lutheran World Relief projects, and personal care for her neighbors and fellow residents.

The lives of Ruth Piehl (1923-2012) and Willis Piehl (1919-2004) exemplify Responsible Stewardship, People First, and Generous Hearts of our Christian Core Values. Their commitment to investing in the success of employee education is one that continually makes an impact at Lutheran Senior Services.

The Ruth and Willis Piehl Education Award in Action

“The Ruth and Willis Piehl Educational Award has been such a God-send in my efforts to continue my education. The Ruth and Willis Piehl Award helps offset the additional cost of books, supplies and other fees associated with going back to school. As we all know, school is stressful as well as expensive! Receiving this Award has made it that much more feasible to accomplish my goal of finishing my degree!”

Naomi Smith, Director of Lifestyle Enrichment at Laclede Groves