Sister M. Therese Gottschalk, who served as CEO of Ascension St. John in Tulsa, Okla., for 38 years, died Monday at the age of 88.
Sister Therese was born in Bavaria, Germany, and was one of 14 children. She became a nun in 1952 and emigrated to the U.S. the following year. Her first hospital job was leading pharmacy and purchasing at Saint Mary's Hospital in Roswell, N.M. She later became the hospital's CEO.
Sister Therese moved to Tulsa and St. John in 1974. She became CEO of that hospital in 1982.
Under her leadership, St. John grew into a fully integrated system of nine hospitals in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.
She stepped down as St. John's president and CEO at the end of 2010 but continued as president of the Marian Health System. Marian joined Ascension in 2013.
"Sister Therese's impact on our health system and our greater community cannot be overstated. She was a living embodiment of our mission to serve those who are in their most vulnerable state," said Jeff Nowlin, Ascension St. John CEO and Oklahoma Ministry market executive, in a statement.
Gottschalk served as an inaugural member of the Ascension Wisconsin board of directors until 2019.