In Memoriam


(1924-2018)

Among the many priests and religious who were part of the extended Birney clan were two Adrian Dominican Sisters: Jean Charles Birney and her sister Mary Jean (Sister Jane Dominic).

Elizabeth Ann Birney, who became Sister Jean Charles in religious life, was born January 20, 1924, in Jackson, Michigan, to Charles and Jean (Crawford) Birney. Charles’ great-great grandfather came from Northern Ireland to Canada and from there to several other locales, finally coming to Bunker Hill, Michigan. Charles was born in Tawas, Michigan. Jean’s side of the family was Scottish, and emigrated to Canada, where Sister Jean was born.

Charles and Jean married in 1918 and settled in Jackson, Michigan. Their first child, a son whom they named John, was stillborn. Next came Mary Jean and then, two and a half years later, Elizabeth, who was born by Caesarean section. Tragically, complications ensued, and Jean died three days later.

Charles remarried in 1928, when Elizabeth was four and a half and Mary Jean was seven. In the meantime, an aunt and great-aunt raised the children. Charles’ second wife, Marco Brennan, was nearly twenty years younger than Charles and, by Sister Jean Charles’ own account in her life story, the marriage was often stormy. The girls attended grade school and high school at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Jackson, but while they were in high school, an especially difficult time in their parents’ marriage led to them being sent away to St. Joseph Academy in Adrian.

Read more about Sister Jean Charles (PDF)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Anderson-Marry Funeral Home, Adrian.

Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).


(1938-2018)

On June 13, 2003, Sister Janet Capone, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and her counterpart from the Dominican Sisters of Edmonds, Washington, Sister Michele Kopp, co-led a ritual in Edmonds that officially united the two congregations.

It was a defining moment for Sister Janet during her term in leadership, which lasted from 1998 to 2004. “Sister Janet’s great gifts of sensitivity, loving care, creativity, and good humor were brought to bear in the coming together of our Dominican communities,” said Sister Patricia Siemen, Prioress of the Congregation, when Sister Janet died in 2018, in a statement for the press release that was issued upon Sister Janet’s passing. “Her love of beauty and gentleness complemented an inner strength and determination to make difficult decisions throughout her life.”

Sister Janet was born on June 5, 1938, in the New York borough of Brooklyn. The Capone family – parents Leonard and Veronica (Hall), older brother Don, Janet, and Carole, who was born four years after Janet – lived on the second floor of a two-family house in Astoria, Queens, New York, with Veronica’s parents on the first floor. Leonard, an attorney, was chief clerk of the Queens County Court, while Veronica was a legal secretary for a law firm in Manhattan.

Read more about Sister Janet (PDF)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

 

Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).

 


(1934-2018)

In all the history of St. Nicholas of Tolentine School in Chicago, there have likely not been many instances of a three-and-a-half-year-old attending kindergarten. But when little Patricia Spangler proved herself so determined to follow her older siblings to school that her brother Jim was late to class because he was the one taking her back home, putting her into kindergarten was the solution devised by the principal, Sister Leone Therese Morrin. That way, Sister Leone Therese reasoned, Jim would have no excuse for missing class every time his baby sister decided to tag along. This did not mean, however, that Pat was officially in school a year early; the next year, she was enrolled in kindergarten along with the other children her age.

Sister Pat was born on December 31, 1934, to Robert and Anna (Rezac) Spangler. She was the sixth child and the third girl born into the family – following Marianne, Bob, Bill, Jim, and Betty Jo – and the first of the Spangler children to be born in Chicago; the family had previously lived in Kansas and Oklahoma. The youngest, Thomas, whom the family called “Timmy” because his godfather nicknamed him “Tiny Tim,” was born just before Sister Pat’s third birthday.

Thomas’ fourth birthday, December 7, 1941, coincided with the day Pearl Harbor was attacked and the U.S. was plunged into World War II. Bob was already in the Navy as part of the V-12 Program, through which men took college classes in order to become officers, and was at the University of Notre Dame. Marianne, who had been working as a secretary and stenographer in downtown Chicago, quit her job and joined the WAVES, where she became a secretary for an admiral at the Great Lakes Naval Base. Bill left school and joined the Navy as well, eventually serving in the South Pacific aboard the (second) aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.

Read more about Sister Patricia (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).

 


(1921-2018)

In one of the northernmost reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in Ontonagon County near the Lake Superior shoreline, lies a tiny unincorporated community called Ewen. This small corner of the U.P. was originally home to William and Signe Gerber, parents of Sister Irma Gerber.

Ewen started out in the late 1880s as a logging camp, and it was as a logger that William worked until not long after he and Signe married. Signe, for her part, was a secretary for a judge in L’Anse, in nearby Baraga County.

Drawn by the lure of a good-paying job in the nascent automobile industry, the couple and their two oldest children, Bert and Kay, moved to Flint, where George worked for the Durant Motor Company and where Elizabeth (the future Sister Mary Irma) was born on April 30, 1921.

When the Durant Company dissolved, the family moved to Detroit and William went to work for the Chevy Gear and Axle plant in Hamtramck. The Gerbers lived nearby, on the west side of Detroit, and attended the new St. Theresa’s Parish. In time, nine children in all came into the family; after Bert, Kay, and Elizabeth, there were William, Benjamin, Dolores, Margaret, and twins Carol and George.

Read more about Sister Irma (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).

 


Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 


We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to .


We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.

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