‘A tireless advocate’: Former Mount Prospect teacher, school board leader dies

Sue Ramstedt’s career and community service ran the gamut of virtually every role in education — special education teacher, PTA president, union leader and school board president — in Mount Prospect Elementary School District 57.

Ramstedt, 81, died Jan. 13 at her Mount Prospect home, following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Her long association with District 57 began as a special-education teacher at Lincoln Junior High School, now Lincoln Middle School, where she worked from 1976 to 2001.

Her son, Jim Ramstedt, said she was a champion of special education students, especially in the days when they were not mainstreamed.

Ramstedt also served as District 57 PTA president and president of the teachers union, the Mount Prospect Education Association.

In 2001, she went to the other side of the negotiating table, when she became school board president, a post she held until 2009. She then joined the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization Foundation Board, remaining with the organization until 2017.

Her efforts earned her a Shining Star Award as “Youth Champion” from the village of Mount Prospect in 2008.

Son Michael Ramstedt said that during the 1990s his mother lobbied friends and older people in the community to back a referendum that would fund construction of a new school. It took three tries, he said, but the referendum passed.

“She really, truly just deeply encouraged people to be so involved,” said Jena Hermanson, a Fairview Elementary School teacher who called Ramstedt a mentor. “Teaching is not just a job you go to. Your school is your home away from home. Your profession is to be valued and respected.”

“She was a tireless advocate for District 57 in every capacity,” Fairview teacher Michele Logar added. “She just supported every cause that had anything to do with education in our community. And because she served in so many capacities, she created relationships far and wide.”

Her sons remember their mom tutoring children in their basement, collecting the money in a coffee can.

“She ended up tutoring 235 children in the basement over 25 years,” Michael Ramstedt said.

“She said, ‘Jimmy, I teach them confidence and believing in themselves. It doesn’t matter what the topic is or if we learn it at all,’” Jim Ramstedt added.

Ramstedt’s social life centered on her home on Pine Street, where her sons said the door was always open. She shared her life with her longtime partner, Guenther Fredericks, who passed away in 2008.

Her sons said she enjoyed knitting, her beloved Chicago Blackhawks and the songs of Frank Sinatra, and was a Little League mom and a Cub Scout den leader.

Services will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at Friedrichs Funeral Home, 320 W. Central Road in Mount Prospect.

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