When Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin transitioned away from the Presidency of Barry University in 1994, she was honored at a celebratory luncheon as “a durable woman who went ahead of us leading the way often through uncharted waters.”
Several memories of Sister Jeanne’s tenure at Barry are found in those luncheon remarks. Found there is a mention of the creative ways in which she got donors to contribute toward a capital project on Barry’s “west forty” acreage – singing a song, accepting a bet regarding learning to ballroom dance – and an accounting of all the people she had helped to get a Barry education, ranging from countless underprivileged students to hundreds of refugees.
In all, Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin spent twenty-three years as Barry’s president. That ministry was part of a long life of service to the field of education as well as to the Congregation itself.
Sister Jeanne was born on May 4, 1929, in Detroit to Thomas Anthony and Mary Margaret (Croak) O’Laughlin. She had very few memories of her mother, who died of complications from childbirth not long after Sister Jeanne turned six years old. Sister Jeanne wrote in her autobiography that she remembered her father taking the children to the hospital and having them stand outside watching the window of the room where her mother was. “I recall the picture vividly of a man holding a woman in his arms as she waved at us,” she wrote. “That was the end of my life with my mother.”
Read more about Sister Jeanne (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
Click here to read the extensive news coverage on Sister Jeanne's death.
Sr Jeanne was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to so many. She accomplished the impossible. She had charisma and charm and purpose. As a result of her vision and strength and perseverance, she helped me fulfill my life long goals and dreams of receiving a MSW and a JD and successfully practicing law to help others. Her legacy and her vision live on. May she Rest in Peace.
I was at Barry for many years and Sr Jeanne was the 5th President. We had the same name in religion with only the OP was SSJ after mine. We both had a degree in Biology. We use to kid about it. She did so much to advance Barry as a leader in the community and brought it from college to Univeesity status.
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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