Ann Marie DeBruin
October 10, 1956 - January 15, 2010
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Appleton West High School Auditorium
610 N. Badger Avenue
Appleton, WI 54911
Wednesday 1/20, 3:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Appleton West High School Auditorium
610 N. Badger Avenue
Appleton, WI 54911
Wednesday 1/20, 6:30 pm
Wichmann Funeral Home
537 N. Superior Street
Appleton, WI 54911
920-739-1231 | Map

Ann Marie Ropella De Bruin, 53, of Appleton, died unexpectedly on Friday, January 15, 2010 at her home. Ann was born on October 10, 1956 in Appleton to Dennis and Nancy Ropella of Menasha. Ann grew up in Menasha and attended Clovis Grove Elementary and Butte des Morts Junior High School. She graduated from Menasha…

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Heather left a message on February 5, 2021:
thank you.
Peter Doyle left a message on March 27, 2020:
I still think about you a lot, Mrs. DeBruin. There's a lot of things you said in the short period of time that I was your student but I still think about them over ten years later and that must mean something. I'm not religious but somehow I hope you're driving down a long road in your Mustang listening to Bruce and I hope that one day I can live up to everything you instilled in me. Thank you.
Jennifer Borenheim left a message on March 1, 2018:
She was my favorite teacher. She was there for the school newspaper. And in my junior year she offered to help me get into college for journalism. I took another route. But through her teachings my daughter is going into journalism for college. She was the sweetest teacher and mentor to me.
Jennifer Borenheim Tschoepe left a message on March 1, 2018:
She was my favorite teacher. She was there for the school newspaper. And in my junior year she offered to help me get into college for journalism. I took another route. But through her teachings my daughter is going into journalism for college. She was the sweetest teacher and mentor to me.
Peter left a message on November 3, 2016:
Any time I think of the Cubs or Bruce Springsteen, I still think of you. You were far and beyond the most inspiring and inspired teacher I have ever been instructed by and if tonight, Bruce forbid, the Cubs lose, when they win in another 100 years, it will be for you.
Peace of mind is a call away. We're here when you need us most.
Erin K. Bryan left a message on November 3, 2016:
The Cubs won and all any of us can think about is you.
Chris left a message on November 2, 2016:
As the Cubs are about to win the World Series, I came back to this to make sure I had you in my mind when they win. A.M. was a great teacher, a great person, and most of all a great Cubs fan. You'll always be with your students in spirit, and will forever be truly missed.
Karen Meyer left a message on May 23, 2013:

The stories she told during classes will stay with me forever.

David Bebeau left a message on May 7, 2013:

She was the greatest educator I have ever known.

Janice Resch left a message on January 31, 2010:
Nancy and Family, Sorry to hear about your loss. I talked to my aunt and she told me. Ann sounds like the kind of person who will be greatly missed by alot of people. Your old Grove St. Menasha Neighbor
michelle left a message on January 26, 2010:
dear david: i condolences go out to you and your family! you may not reconize my name but i know you and your wife from "Red Lobster" for many years you came in and i always enjoyed you and ann's smiles and stories of travel! you will be in ALL of our prayers and hearts forever!
Dawn Stovall (Kiser) left a message on January 21, 2010:
My condolences on the loss of your wife, mother, and friend. I knew Mrs. De Bruin when she taught me at West '93-'96. She was a phenomenal teacher who was well-respected by everyone at West. My best friend called me crying when she heard of your loss, as she was her favorite teacher (College Prep Skills). She even quoted one of her favorite things to say (which obviously stuck if we remember it 15 years later- "Procrastination is the thief of time!" I went on to become a teacher as well, and she was one of the "good ones" who helped shape who I am as a teacher today. I also grew up right around the corner from you, and I couldn't wait to trick-or-treat at your house so I could see her all dressed up in her witch costume, playing "tricks" on the kids. Although her life was cut short, please know that she will live on through all of the thousands of kids she taught valuable lessons to. I will never forget the impact she had on my life.
Dan & Brenda Sieger left a message on January 20, 2010:
We just wanted to let you know our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. Ann was a wonderful lady! She truly was the definition of the word "teacher". She is the reason our son went to school everyday. She saw the potential in our son that no one else could see and took the time to show him he was worth it. Because of her our son began to love reading and learning and eventually graduated. He also had Ann as his T-ball coach and had some of the best times on that team. She went out of her way to give the team an end of the season party at Chi-Chi's that our son still talks about. She will be missed by many. Dan, Brenda & Adam Sieger
Marie Auer & David Diser left a message on January 20, 2010:
Our prayers are with David & family as well as Nancy Ropella and all the Ropella's at this difficult time.
Mike Prosser left a message on January 20, 2010:
We wish Ann Marie's memory to continue to energize all whom she has touched during her time with us. Our condolences to the DeBruin and Ropella families as well as to the community which Anne Marie was such an integral part of. Signed - Mike Prosser and the Prosser Family
haley feiler left a message on January 19, 2010:
"BRUCE IS MY ONLY BOSS!" This woman was not only an incredibly teacher, but a mentor, role model, and hero. She will be forever missed and remembered as a diehard Springsteen and Cubbies fan. Love you Mrs. D
Doc left a message on January 19, 2010:
The last time I saw Mrs. DeBruin was at my first Bruce Springsteen concert this past November in Milwaukee. At West and RSA, we used to talk after class about music, movies, books, and anything else that came up. She listened to my dreams and was the first adult who made me believe that I would one day fulfill all of them, she never once doubted me. She always had time to listen. At the end of my senior year, Mrs. DeBruin gave me a monogrammed clock she said so that I would think of her during all of my travels and adventures not “do anything she wouldn’t do.” Mrs. DeBruin was more than an English teacher; she was a comedian, an artist, and a friend. All students who remember her discuss the inspiration she gave us to believe in ourselves, to take advantage of what the world has to offer, to pick ourselves up when we are down, and to see the good in the world around us. Every time a Bruce Springsteen song plays, you will be in my thoughts.
Samuel Hamilton left a message on January 19, 2010:
"I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. " - John Steinbeck
Gail Heitl left a message on January 19, 2010:
You will be greatly missed at West Ann!
Kris Peterson left a message on January 19, 2010:
Ann inspired my daughter to be the best writer she could be. Her classes were tough, fun and rewarding. We still say "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." one of Ann's favorite quotes when students would moan about the work assigned:) I remember a conversation Ann had with a Mom. She was so invested in the student that she told the Mom and student she would come to their house the next Saturday to help him catch up on his work. That was dedication to the max!!! I will miss seeing her on the first day of school for the inservice festivities and catching up on our children. Ann inspired me to reach higher goals through her dedication and enthusiasm. I pray for her family to be surrounded by God's loving arms during this time of deep sadness.
Peace of mind is a call away. We're here when you need us most.
Virginia Magnus left a message on January 19, 2010:
Sorry to hear of your loss.The educational community as well as us have lost a great lady,but her legacy will live on in her students , family and all she met. I got to know Ann at Living Lady and at Gold's gym and enjoyed talking with her. We will miss her. I will keep you in prayer that God will give you grace and strength during this time of loss
Mark Husby left a message on January 19, 2010:
Nancy and Family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you. The Management & Staff of Richmond Terrace - Mark, Mary Lou, Paul, Ernie, Don & Beau
Lynn (Schumacher) Hietpas left a message on January 19, 2010:
My smpathy & condolences go out to Ann's family. I had the honor to have her as my high school teacher in Stockbridge & our class advisor thru our high school years as well. She was a great person, teacher & friend also. May she be the angel looking over us all & guide us until we meet with her again. Lynn - Class of '81
Marge Draheim left a message on January 19, 2010:
My husband and I are so sorry to hear of Anne´s passing. She was indeed a special lady. I had the good fortune of teaching with her at Wilson MS, where she was known as someone who would challenge the students. Our daughter was privileged to have Ann as a teacher. She will be missed! We are currently out of the country, and so will not be able to express our condolences personally, but Ann will be in our thoughts and prayers.
Lisa Lesselyong left a message on January 18, 2010:
Mrs. DeBruin touched my daughter's life is so many ways. Mrs. De Bruin set high expectations, delivered excellent instruction and showed great concern and support for all students. Ann inspired my daughter to become a better writer and person. Her love of teaching was abundant and well surpassed professional expectations. Mrs. De Bruin had a way of connecting with my daughter that empowered her to take risks to learn and achieve in ways that she didn't know she was able to. Our family is grieving the loss of Ann De Bruin. We offer prayers to Mrs. De Bruin's family and would like to thank Ann personally for touching our daughter's life. Maggie will not forget Mrs. De Bruin. Instead, Maggie holds her in high esteem. She is thankful Mrs. De Bruin shared herself and her talents to help her grow personally and academically.
Jennifer Cisler left a message on January 18, 2010:
Even though Mrs. DeBruin taught me English four years ago, thinking of her is still teaching me about life, from music to friendship to enjoying the company you're in and living for the moment. No one could count all the souls and hearts Mrs. DeBruin reached and affected.
Karen Kapocius left a message on January 18, 2010:
You will be missed Red Headed Lady.
Jenny Heinritz left a message on January 18, 2010:
I feel blessed to have known Ann for over 20 years. I first knew her as a caring neighorhood mom, as I grew up with her children. Then I knew her as an enthusiastic teacher, who knew I could do better than I let on. More recently, I knew her as a mentor and colleague. I can only strive to make as big of an impact on my students as she did on hers. Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing Ann is a better person because of it. Her light will continue to shine bright....
Ryan Panzer left a message on January 18, 2010:
Seven years ago, I walked in to Mrs. Debruin's classroom, on my first day of high school. I'll never forget the first thing she said to our class: "You are going to fall down. We will get you back up again." That was how she lived her life, constantly picking up and lifting up those around her, especially her students. To this day, Mrs. Debruin has had more influence on my life than any other teacher. The ways she has touched my life, ranging from a new found love of Bruce Springsteen, to a stunning appreciation of Romeo and Juliet, to a lifelong passion for writing and learning are felt daily. I will miss her, but I will continue to try to inspire others to live to their potential as she so vigorously inspired me. May the light that she brightened in all of her students be a comfort to you in this difficult time. And may the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's "Land of Hope and Dreams" remind you of the paradise that she has entered into.
Noble left a message on January 18, 2010:
I was outside of my class one day in comm arts class and my classroom was right by Mrs. Debruin's. I remember saying hi to her once but everytime I saw her classroom it looked like everybody was having a lot of fun. I really wish I could have been part of that fun as a junior or as a senior. You will be missed greatly Mrs. Debruin.
Peter Long left a message on January 18, 2010:
Before my 8th grade year at Wilson M.S., I had only the vaguest notion of what I wanted to do when I grew up. Comic book artist, perhaps, or NFL quarterback, or video game tester. I wasn’t in a rush to figure it out at 14. My nebulous future goals, however, were lost forever the moment I set foot into Mrs. DeBruin’s classroom in the fall of ‘97. From that point forward I was hooked on writing, and it was the education, guidance, and confidence Mrs. DeBruin imparted me during that formative year which taught me to demand the very best from myself—writing or otherwise—throughout high school, college, and beyond. There will be a great many success stories traced back to the influence of Ann DeBruin, not just of fine writers, poets and editors, but of fine men and women of all professions and callings who were touched by Ann’s gifts as a teacher, and inspired by her spirit as a mentor, friend, coach and champion. You will be missed, Mrs. DeBruin! Thank you for everything.
Debbie Heinritz and Family left a message on January 18, 2010:
My family has known Ann for many years. I knew Ann in severals roles, in which she was always a role model and mentor. I had the privilege of working with Ann as an active Lincoln Elementary School parent, baseball coach and parent, reading program creator , supporter and sustainer and Wilson and West parent. Ann was English teacher to 2 of my 3 children at Wilson and West. Ann knew how to say the hard things that were needed to spur improvement and growth in each person she had contact with. She also knew how to say the soft things that kept the improvment and growth happening. I am happy to have received what Ann so gracefully shared - what a gift! Thank you. God bless you and your family!
Kaitlyn Belonger left a message on January 18, 2010:
I was lucky to have had the chance to know Mrs. Debruin, not only as a student, but on a more personal level. I remember walking into her classroom the first day of school, smiling,wondering if she would remember me. Immediately she listed memories she had of me as a child, and all I could do was laugh and smile. That was something I never stopped doing in her classroom. I can still see her sitting at her desk, laughing her fake evil laugh as she passes out a Beowulf assignment,or conjuring up another delightfully witty life lesson. I remember sitting at her desk talking about Trace Adkins, or Bruce. I remember her smile, and that is something that I will surely miss. I may be a better student, reader, writer, listener, or speaker,but I am altogether a better person because of her. She has made such a huge imprint on our community, and I will forever be grateful to have known her.
Jessica Lietzan-Buechel left a message on January 18, 2010:
I'm so sorry for your loss. I remember Ann as someone who perpetually challenged me to live up to my full potential, which was what I needed as a young student. She invigorated us all through her energy and enthusiasm and life.
Nancy Keys left a message on January 18, 2010:
Mrs. DeBruin was an influence in my son's life. She helped point him on the right track and he improved his grades even getting on the honor roll. Mrs. DeBruin will be missed by students and parents alike. My son has been blessed to have her freshman year and he is so very disappointed not to have her again next year. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.
Wichmann Funeral Home & Crematories left a message:
Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.
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