Mlle. Marie Reuche was born in Paris in 1870 and was descended on her mother’s side from Madame Roland who was a prominent figure in the French Revolution. She came from France in 1894 and taught at Dana Hall when the Eastman sisters were principals. Mlle. Reuche even tutored Miss Cooke in French when she first arrived in Wellesley in order to prepare her for entrance into Wellesley College. Mlle. Reuch was the most energetic faculty member and her wit, vivacity, and charm were legendary. She was also very strict and was called “Little Napoleon.” The Class of 1906 said in their yearbook that she was “Swift as an arrow, short as any dream.” Despite her strictness, her students praised the brilliance of her teaching. “Thanks to Mlle. Reuche I had a foundation for studying French that has lasted to this day.”
Beginning in 1898, Mlle. Reuche along with her friend Helen J. Huebener would conduct trips for Dana students in the summer to Europe. Their trip in the summer of 1914 was most eventful due to the outbreak of World War I. Mlle. Reuch, her students, and thousands of American tourists were stranded in Genoa looking for passage home. Through one of the girls they were able to find passage on a Standard Oil tanker, the Lampo. The officers gave up their cabins to the girls but the trip took eighteen days due to the captain taking a southerly route in order to avoid any submarines.
In the spring of 1905, Mlle. Reuche established Le Cercle Francais, a group of fifteen students who met in the large west room of the Cemetery, a dormitory in Dana Main, and listened to Mlle. Reuche reading aloud L’Abbe Constantin. The cornerstone was laid that following fall for the French House as a result of the request for a regular meeting place. The French House, or La Malmaison, became the home of the French Club as well as the home of Mlle. Reuche and Helen Huebener. In 1937, to show their esteem for Mlle. Reuche, the alumnae built an addition to the French House, a stage with dressing rooms below where faultlessly acted and produced plays became a tradition.
In 1939, the French government awarded the Palmes Academiques and the title of “Officier d’Academie” to Mlle. Reuch in recognition of her distinguished service in the field of teaching the French language and literature. Mlle. Reuch retired in 1940 but continued her interest in the French Club until her death in 1951.
Mlle. Reuche. Wellesley, MA: Dana Hall Archives.
Marie Reuche, photograph. Dana Hall Archives, Wellesley, MA.
Originally published as Person of the Week, October 10, 2005