Vero Beach, Florida, was the birthplace – and the site of a very happy childhood – for Viola Mary Eckhoff, who would go on to become Sister Imelda Marie.
Viola Mary was the fourth child, and the third girl, born to Joseph and Viola (Dothage) Eckhoff on October 24, 1931. Her older siblings were Marilyn, Evelyn, and Joe, with Carole the youngest in the family.
Sister Imelda recalled in her 2019 “A Sister’s Story” video that Vero Beach had much open land in those days, and she and the other children spent much of their time hiking as well as fishing and swimming, They were good times, she recalled, even if her childhood did come during the Great Depression and the family did not have much.
At Christmas, she wrote in her autobiography, each child would get one present, and for the Christmas when she was perhaps three years old, all the girls got dolls and Joe got a ball. As the family would later tell the story, “I cried and said I didn’t want a dolly, I wanted a ball. Daddy went out on Christmas Day to find me a ball.”
Read more about Sister Imelda (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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Sister Imelda was a much beloved volunteer tutor at DePorres Place. Her students were so grateful to her for her patience and caring, and our DePorres staff thought she hung the moon. We miss her very much, and we're happy to have one of her drawings displayed at our Literacy Center, It is a constant reminder of her creativity and her enthusiasm for all of life.
Imelda was one of my favorite people. Her artwork graces our home in the Dominican Republic. Her generosity which was manifested in so many forms, cannot be forgotten. Her loving, interested and caring heart will speak to us through her artwork.
I am so sorry to hear of Sister Imelda's passing. She will be in my prayers.
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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