Longtime Centerville French teacher Yvonne Rall dead at 84

A Centerville teacher who taught at the high school for decades died last week.

Yvonne Rall taught between 1973 and 2005. She died Feb. 7 from Alzheimer’s, her son Ted Rall said. She was 84.

Born in France in 1935, Yvonne Rall moved to America when she was 25 and became a memorable teacher at the school.

“She was as feared as she was fondly remembered,” her son said. “Students recalled a sharp-tongued teacher who enforced a zero-tolerance policy toward slouching, laziness and the use of English in class. She was also kind. She arrived early and worked late each day in order to tutor students who needed extra help. She inspired several of her students to become French teachers.”

During her tenure, Yvonne Rall initiated the school’s advanced-placement French program, began a French Honor Society and was named Teacher of the Year in 2001.

Yvonne Rall was an advocate for education and second languages. In a letter to the editor published in the Dayton Daily News in the 1990s, Rall said it was important for students to take second language training.

“As our world becomes more and more complicated, I think that the study of a foreign language is very important!” she wrote. “In addition, it does not conflict with the improvement of the English language study. In fact, it enlarges our understanding of the native tongue as well as our awareness of other cultures.”

Yvonne lived in France during World War II and was a girl when Germany invaded the country. Her second-grade teacher, accused of resistance activity, was executed by a Gestapo firing squad in the school courtyard as she and her classmates were forced to watch, her son said.

Ted Rall said WWII was traumatic for his mother. She remembered celebrating the end of the war.

“On a hot day in July 1944, she found herself alone in a village main square when she noticed a cloud of dust on the horizon,” her son said. “As a column of vehicles drew closer she saw that the lead tank carried an American flag. To alert the townspeople that liberation had arrived she raced into the village church. Forty years later a resident recognized her: ‘You’re the girl who rang the bell!’”

“’I fell in love with America that day,’” her son recalled her mother saying.

Yvonne Rall is survived by her son and her grandson, Erick Rall.

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