In Memoriam


“We knew Ellen as a Renaissance woman and a leader, who was always ready to build community and to take on any challenge that was given her. She had many talents stuffed in that little tool box of hers. … Ellen led in elegant ways and in simple ways.”

These words began the remarks by Mary “Pidge” Newbauer at Sister Ellen Murphy’s wake service on April 16, 2019. Mary and her husband, John, were longtime friends of Sister Ellen’s.

Sister Ellen Murphy was born on May 26, 1936, in Detroit to Joseph and Cecilia (Kenney) Murphy. Joseph and Cecilia were both born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, to Irish-immigrant parents, and came to Detroit during the Great Depression in search of work.

Early in their married life, the couple discovered they would likely never be able to have children, due to an injury Cecilia had suffered in childhood. “At first she was devastated, but she had a secret weapon unknown to the medical community: strong, lifelong devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of ‘Mother of Perpetual Help,’” Sister Ellen wrote in her autobiography.

One week after Joseph and Cecilia’s tenth wedding anniversary, and six days after Cecilia’s fortieth birthday, Ellen Patricia Murphy came into the world at Detroit’s St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. Because of complications during the birth, she was immediately baptized in the delivery room. She was the couple’s only child.

Read more about Sister Ellen (pdf)

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

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The small city of Tucumcari, New Mexico, on the eastern side of the state not far from the Texas border, was home to St. Anne’s Parish School, staffed by Adrian Dominican Sisters – and to the Szabo family.

Louis Szabo and Florence Murphy – he of Hungarian descent and born in Alma, Texas, she of Irish extraction and from Clarksdale, Illinois – met in 1927, some years after both families had moved to New Mexico. Florence was a schoolteacher in Miera, New Mexico, when she decided to join a club for Catholic singles, and she and Louis were matched up as pen pals. Three years later, the couple married and settled in Tucumcari.

Louis was a machinist for the Rock Island-Southern Pacific Railroad as well as a farmer. He never finished high school, but he had taught himself how to repair locomotives, how to farm, and how to do electrical and plumbing work. “My dad was a silent, hard-working man who loved nature, had a thirst and respect for knowledge and was known all over this area for his helpfulness, honesty and generosity,” wrote his daughter Eleanora, the future Sister Ann Rozalia, in a July 28, 1980, St. Catherine letter.

Born on August 12, 1932, Eleanora Isobel Szabo was actually the second of twin daughters, but little Rozalia Ann died just five hours after her birth. Delivery took place at home, since the town had no hospital then, so when Florence developed severe complications Louis arranged for her, his sister Mary, and Eleanora to travel by train to Oklahoma City and a hospital there. One of the family’s goats, Bee-bee, also made the trip in a crate Louis made for her, in order to provide milk because Florence was unable to nurse her baby; but as it turned out, Bee-bee was so stressed by the travel that she quit giving milk and “I was a Carnation baby after that,” Sister Ann Rozalia wrote in her autobiography. 

Read more about Sister Ann Rozalia (pdf)

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

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Lisbeth Johnson, left, with her sister, Associate Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, after Lisbeth’s Ritual of Acceptance into Associate Life in 2014.


Lisbeth Gene Hentschel was born on October 5, 1960 to Eugene and Meg (Malcolm) Hentschel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She became part of a family of six, with her siblings, James, Stephan, and Mary.

Lisbeth’s childhood life was very busy: traveling, camping, going to the beach, and playing outside. She learned to read at age 3 and once she arrived at kindergarten, a lifelong love of learning began. 

Lissie attended Holy Name School and then Grand Rapids Catholic Central, graduating as salutatorian and a National Merit scholarship recipient. At Aquinas College, she majored in mathematics, accounting, and business, passing the CPA exam on her first try, at age 21. She was also a tutor at Aquinas and worked on the school newspaper, where she formed very close friendships. Her interest in art history drew her to Florence and Rome to see the art.

Lissie discovered that she was much more comfortable working with not-for-profit organizations. She worked for the Diocese of Grand Rapids and eventually became Financial Director at Family Outreach of Grand Rapids, which provides psychological services to the marginalized. She sought funding for the center, managed the accounting, and wrote grants. Lissie had a great call to social justice and frequently spoke out against the injustices in her city.

Lisbeth married Dale Johnson in August 1990 and their son, Nicholas Andrew Johnson, was born the following year. Family life, her job, and parish life kept her very busy. The Twelve Steps program was very important to her and she actively participated in Al-Anon. Although she knew that her marriage was not healthy, she remained married to care for her husband Dale, who had a lot of health issues. Once Dale was stable, they divorced, but Lissie continued to look after him and his medical needs.

Because she was the one sibling who remained in Grand Rapids, Lissie often had to care for her parents. With the death of first her mother and then beloved father in April 2018, she found herself in a time of new beginnings. Lissie and Joe Steve, a college friend, found each other and became engaged in the fall of 2018. Their wedding was to be in June 2019.

Lissie certainly considered herself to be a Dominican. She joined Associate Life in 2014 with her sister Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, as her mentor. Both sisters enjoyed the hours they spent studying the formation materials. Lissie also attended Associate retreats and Partners gatherings.

Lissie enjoyed reading, quilting, watching old movies, swimming, and being with her son Nick and her many nieces and nephews. 

In October, 2018 Lissie was diagnosed with uterine and lung cancer. She endured two difficult surgeries and in January 2019 began to take chemo treatments. Throughout this challenging time, she remained upbeat, happy, and positive. It was a tragic day for her family when, on March 29 on her way to work, she was involved in an auto accident, hit by an impaired driver. She lived five days despite being terribly injured. 

On Wednesday, April 3, Lissie indicated in writing that she wished for her ventilator to be removed and to die peacefully. She wrote that her dad was telling her to “come home.” She died peacefully, with a smile on her face, talking to her dad.

Lissie’s Memorial Mass was celebrated on April 12, at Holy Spirit Parish with her good friend Msgr. Edward A. Hankiewicz presiding. She will be missed. Lissie is the fourth person of the staff of the college newspaper to die at an early age. Perhaps they are gathering together, arguing and laughing as in the days gone by.


I am coming to terms with the fact that time is fleeting, and I have tried to give values to the students I have worked with. The values that I hope I have instilled are a love and craving for learning, and an appreciation for books. If I have touched any people to want to do these, I have accomplished my bit in bettering the world.

These words come near the end of the voluminous autobiography written by Sister Patricia DeMay in 2001 as she was ending her full-time ministry at the University of West Alabama in favor of adjunct status. “I have experienced many times, places, people,” she also wrote in that paragraph. “I have taught from grades K-6 and college, have been school principal and school librarian. What more could I ask?”

Sister Patricia was born on May 5, 1931, in Jackson, Michigan, to Cuthbert and Myrtle (Bleicher) DeMay. Cuthbert was a physician in Jackson, while Myrtle had trained as a nurse and met her future husband during her training. The couple married on November 7, 1918, just a few days before the end of World War I, while Cuthbert was serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. After their wedding, they lived at Camp McClellan, Alabama, until Cuthbert’s time in the service was up in February 1919.

Three children came into the DeMay family: John in 1919, Mary in 1921, and finally, ten years later, Patricia. Patricia wrote in her autobiography that her parents, with their unusual names, wanted their children to have “common” names, and she was named Patricia Ann and nicknamed Patsy. She hated “Patsy,” she wrote, but the name stuck until she was halfway through high school, when she became “Pat.” 

Read more about Sister Pat (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.



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