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Defying the Odds

Note: This is the 29th profile in a series of 90 stories highlighting individuals who have shaped Notre Dame and/or live the College’s mission of personal, professional and global responsibility.

By Christian Taske ’07

Notre Dame College alumna Angela Schiebel ’40 was born in Detroit, Mich., on June 29, 1918, at a time when women didn’t have the right to vote and many didn’t have a chance to go to college. But that never let the feisty businesswoman stop her from calling the shots in her life.

Always independent, creative, opinionated and full of spunk, Schiebel used her Notre Dame College education to embark on a successful career in sales promotion that left her with a considerable fortune. Behind her tough exterior was a woman who deeply cared for her friends and her church, and who valued her education all her life. She valued it so much in fact that she left a sizable portion of her estate to the College after her death in 2009.

“While I knew Angela only during her last quarter century, I firmly believe that her years at Notre Dame College helped shape her into an extremely memorable individual,” Schiebel’s close friend Jay Ericcson said. “Having graduated high school from Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Angela carried a special place in her heart for Notre Dame, especially her College.”

When she was little, Schiebel and her parents, Joseph and Isabell, moved to Toledo, Ohio, where her one sibling, Robert, was born in 1925. Robert died while serving his country in World War II, and Schiebel grieved losing her brother until her own passing.

Angela Schiebel
Angela Schiebel graduated in 1940 with a bachelor's in economics.

Early in life, Schiebel worked hard to defy the odds women faced in the early 20th century. She became class president at Notre Dame Academy as a freshman and held that title all four years of high school.

After graduation Schiebel continued her education at NDC, where she was a member of the Sodality Dance Committee, the Student Council and the Junior Prom Committee. She was also a gifted staff writer for the Notre Dame News and freelanced for The Plain Dealer,The Cleveland News,The Cleveland Press andThe South Euclid Messenger. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a minor in Secretarial Science Journalism in 1940.

After graduation Schiebel went back to Toledo, where her love of advertising and fashion became the true love of her life. She was not one who liked to be tied down to anything and, while engaged several times, never chose to marry. She told friends she “was always looking for her next adventure.”

After her sales promotion job took her to several places, Schiebel landed in California, first in Oakland, then in Fresno. She worked up the ladder in the area of sales promotion for six years with the Rhodes Brothers department store, before she decided to take a year off to travel throughout Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Islands. In late 1969, she became the sales promotion director for Brocks in Bakersfield, Calif., where she worked until it was acquired by Gottschalks in 1987.

Schiebel died on Dec. 22, 2009, at the age of 91. She died peacefully in her chair while reading a book, presumably dreaming about her next adventure. She relished living by herself and didn’t leave any known relatives, but many people in Bakersfield were glad to be her surrogate family, Ericcson said.

Schiebel was a member of the Notre Dame College Marian Legacy Society, which was founded in 1996 to recognize those who are committed to providing future generations with a values-based education at Notre Dame. All told, her contributions to her alma mater add up to more than $400,000.

“Because of Angela’s feisty personality, she lived a long and diverse life,” Ericcson. “Hopefully her memory will flourish at her alma mater.”

Christian Taske ’07 is the director of print & digital communications at Notre Dame College.