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Obituary | Sister Clairerita Atha, CSJ

A funeral Mass for Sister Clairerita Atha, CSJ, was celebrated March 30 at Nazareth Living Center. She was 84 and had been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for 65 years.

Born in St. Joseph, Mo., she entered the community in 1951, received a habit and the name Sister Alan Margaret in 1952 and made final profession in 1959. After a brief stint teaching Catholic grade school in Kansas City, Mo., she focused her ministry on nursing, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1957 from the College of St. Teresa (now Avila University) in Kansas City.

She served twice at St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood: as a nursing supervisor, 1963-67; and a nurse, 1973-75. She was assistant head nurse at St. Joseph Community Hospital in Hancock, Mich., 1967-68, when employees went on strike, leaving all of the work for the sisters. Laundering their white habits proved problematical, so the sisters bought regular nurse uniforms. No one had ever seen the sisters without their habits and Sister Clairerita's red hair stood out.

She also cooked for 150 patients, toiling in the kitchen preparing salads and desserts before her nursing shift from 3-11 p.m. That lasted 30 days.

Sister Clairerita also worked as a nurse or nursing supervisor at hospitals in Kansas City, St. Joseph and New York state before moving to St. Louis in 1992. She was a nurse from 1992-94 at Nazareth Living Center and a cook there, 1994-2002, then became a home service caregiver at CSJ Care. She retired in 2007, but continued as a volunteer.

Since 2011, she had served a prayer and presence ministry at Nazareth.

Sister Clairerita is survived by a sister, Margaret Horrigan of Louisville, Ky.; and a brother, Paul Atha of St. Joseph. 

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