In Memoriam

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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The very small town of Springerville, Arizona, in the east-central part of the state just 17 miles from the border with New Mexico, gave the Adrian Dominican Sisters the twenty-four-year-old Ida Mae Herbella.

Ida Mae was the seventh of ten children born to Dario and Eladia (Dominquez) Herbella after the couple moved to Arizona from the Galacian Province of their native Spain. The three “middle children” died in infancy before Ida Mae came into the family, leading age-wise to a set of three older children, a gap of several years, and then the younger four beginning with Ida Mae. It was almost like having two families merged into one, she wrote in her autobiography. She was twelve years old when the youngest sibling, Jaqueline, age four, died of diphtheria.

Dario had been conscripted into the Spanish army as a young man and served until being medically discharged due to a hernia. He then went to work in a mine, where he earned 25 cents a day in addition to having his room and board provided, and eventually he saved up enough money to book passage on a ship to Cuba. There, he worked in the sugar cane fields until he had the money to go by ship to San Francisco, where he worked as a longshoreman. Working hard and continuing to save gave him the means to return to Spain as a successful man.

Read more about Sister Mary Daria (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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With a father who was a judge and a mother who passed her own love of nature on to her children, Maureen Fenlon learned early on the importance of both social justice and caring for the Earth. These qualities shaped most of her life in ministry as an Adrian Dominican Sister.

Sister Maureen was born on May 29, 1943, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to James and Noel (Finlan) Fenlon. Her entrance into the world was not at all certain; Noel spent three days in labor and neither mother nor baby was expected to survive the ordeal. But survive they did, and Maureen became the fourth of five children born to the couple in less than five years: Brian in August 1940, Paul in May 1941, Dennis in April 1942, Maureen, and finally Shauna in June 1945. “We were close not only in age but as lively playmates,” she wrote.

James Fenlon and his brother were both attorneys who became judges, and Maureen said in her life story that listening to their conversations shaped in her a sense of fairness, justice, and compassion. Both men believed in leniency for the people they sentenced, she said, despite criticism from law enforcement, and “I learned a lot about social justice and it made me proud of them for their compassionate ways.”

Read more about Sister Maureen (pdf)

make a memorial gift

Memorial 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. 

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