Dr. Ramona F. Yehle, 69, of Tucson AZ passed away Monday, January 17, 2022, at Banner University Hospital in Tucson. Ramona was a loving wife, friend, and respected nurse, nursing instructor and colleague.
Ramona was born in Antigo, Wisconsin on October 22, 1952 to Clarence and Vivian (Hitt) Rasmussen and was raised on a farm in the Town of Rolling with seven siblings. At Christmas she would always ask for nurses and doctor kits. She loved Star Trek and Lost in Space and was a big science fiction fan as both child and adult. She was a member of the Strassburg Eveready 4H-Club where she participated in sewing and baking projects. No farm animals for her.
Her first four years of education were in a one room schoolhouse before transferring to Pleasant View School in the Town of Rolling. In fact, Ramona and her mother came up with the name of Pleasant View for the school.
While attending Antigo High School, Ramona worked as a CNA at Langlade Memorial Hospital. She graduated from Antigo High School in 1970 and was awarded a grant to North Central Technical College in Stephen’s Point. After completing her Associate Degree in Nursing, Ramona worked as a staff/charge nurse at St. Michaels Hospital in Stephens Point from 1974-1976.
In 1976, Ramona moved to La Crosse where she worked as a staff/charge nurse in both the Coronary Care Unit and the Emergency Department at Gundersen Lutheran. Later, she integrated infection control responsibilities in these units along with her other responsibilities. She also taught CPR and ACLS for many years. Ramona developed lifelong friendships at Gundersen. While working at Gundersen, Ramona completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at Winona State and then a Master of Science in Nursing (MS) at Winona State in Winona, MN.
Ramona left Gundersen Lutheran in 1999 to pursue her dream of becoming an Associate Degree Nursing Instructor at Western Wisconsin Technical College. Her extensive and diverse clinical experiences along with her responsibilities in infection control made her set high standards for all her nursing students. Ramona devoted countless hours to ensure that every student met both the maximum academic and clinical potential possible. She sought out every available clinical experience learning opportunity for her students whether they were in the hospital or in long term care. When her students did well, Ramona was elated, but when they struggled, Ramona counseled them and coached them to ensure that they were successful. Based on her wealth of clinical practice experiences, Ramona understood the critical importance of each student becoming an excellent and safe registered nurse. Ramona’s colleagues at Western recognized her leadership, confidence, patience, humor, and brilliance. While other instructors were struggling to understand the basics of computer technology, Ramona was already thinking of online testing and implementing online nursing courses. She served on college-wide technology committees where she was recognized as an expert. Realizing her superior knowledge of computer technology, she was appointed to state-wide nursing committees working on all the facets of organizing online nursing courses. Yet, Ramona continued to patiently mentor her colleagues and never failed to answer endless basic computer technology related questions for everyone. Ramona was also a Nurse Examiner for Regents College in Madison Wi. for 3 years.
Always seeking to advance her formal education and challenge boundaries, Ramona decided to pursue her PhD with a focus on technology in nursing while continuing her teaching career at Western. Weekends and vacations were devoted to coursework and reading while combining this with her teaching responsibilities. In 2011, after more than five years of studying, Ramona successfully completed every requirement, reached her goal of a Doctoral Degree (PhD) in Instructional Design Online Learning, and became Dr. Ramona. Her dissertation was on the effectiveness of virtual reality training for nurses.
For those who were privileged to call Ramona friend, she was loyal, funny, and enthusiastic. She expressed her opinion freely and was respected for that. She adored her cats but mostly, she adored her husband, Phil. We all grieved when a special cat was lost, and we all cheered when a new cat arrived at their home. No one ever doubted that these were the luckiest of cats. We enjoyed seeing her office adorned with pictures of her cats but mostly with pictures of Phil. We all knew he was the love of her life and she greatly appreciated his unfailing support and his devoted care. Ramona was truly the most special of friends.
Ramona loved to travel with Phil. She especially enjoyed setting up the itinerary for the extended trips to Alaska and New England and Mexico.
Ramona and Phil retired in 2011 and moved to the desert climate of Tucson, AZ. However, retirement was not in Ramona’s blood, so before too long she was working the University of Arizona Medical Center as an Information Systems Specialist, teaching nurses and doctors how to use the newly acquired electronic medical record system. Because Ramona truly was a nursing instructor at heart, in 2015, she accepted a position with American Sentinel University as an online Associate Professor in the Graduate Nursing Program. After a few years, Ramona transitioned to an adjunct professor position with a focus on students working on research projects to complete a DNP degree. Ramona’s commitment to student success along with her extensive knowledge of nursing research meant that she often was assigned students struggling to complete the research course requirements. As she had always done previously, Ramona often spent extra time mentoring students to complete the necessary research proposal and then coaching the students to successfully defend their material during oral exams. Nursing colleagues both in her clinical career and in her teaching career admired Ramona for her ideals, her fairness, her extensive knowledge, her confidence, her concern, and her willingness to always reach out to help anyone who needed assistance.
Ramona loved her life in Tucson with Phil. The dry hot weather was a reprieve from the cold, damp Wisconsin winter and humid summers. They frequently attended plays, lectures, street fairs, concerts and did a little hiking in the desert. It was a whole new world of adventure right outside their front door.
Ramona is survived by her husband, Philip Yehle of Tucson, three sisters, Jeanne (Terry) Tatro and Melodye (Dave) Koles of Antigo and Sandra (Dave) Igl of Hutchinson MN and by three brothers, Kenneth (Juanita) of Deerbrock, Leslie (Mary) of Antigo and Thomas (Diane) of Wausau. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews along with her special kitties, Punky and Chico. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Richard Rasmussen.
A memorial will be held in her honor this summer in La Crosse.
In Lieu of flowers, memorials in her honor can be directed to the Ramona F. Yehle Nursing Scholarship at the Western Technical College Foundation, 304 6th Street North, La Crosse or online at westerntc.edu.