Sister Mary Elmendorf, a Franciscan Sister of Mary for more than 76 years, died Dec. 10 at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Missouri. She was 91.
Mary Cecilia Ann Elmendorf was born June 3, 1929, in St. Charles, one of 10 children born to Ralph J. and Frances (Knoblauch) Elmendorf. During her freshman year at St. Peter’s High School, she learned about the Sisters of St. Mary when she attended a reception for a postulant at St. Mary of the Angels Convent. After working in dietary at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Charles, she decided to join the congregation. Her sister, Jacinta Marie Elmendorf, joined the sisters in 1952.
Mary entered the congregation Aug. 4, 1944; she received the name Sister Mary Ralph, and professed final vows June 5, 1950. She completed high school at St. Mary of the Angels, and she earned her bachelor’s in dietetics from Saint Louis University in 1954. She completed a dietetics internship at St. Mary’s Hospital and Firmin Desloge Hospital in St. Louis (1954-55).
She then taught dietetics at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kansas City (1954-59). She served in dietetics at hospitals in Madison, Wisconsin (1959-62) and Blue Island, Illinois (1962-92).
From 1992-98 she worked as assistant food service director at The Washington and Jane Smith Retirement Home in Chicago; from 1998 to 2004 she served as assistant director of activities there. Even after retiring in 2004, she continued to volunteer several days a week as a patient advocate at St. Francis Hospital (which became a for-profit hospital in 2008) and as a sister visitor at the retirement home. She moved to The Sarah Community in April 2015.
Sister Mary loved watching sports, especially White Sox baseball; a high point for her was the opportunity to throw out the first pitch of the game on Sept.17, 2012. She loved baking and playing solitaire; the Rosary was her favorite devotion. She felt blessed to be a Franciscan Sister of Mary: “I’m able to share our charism with the people I meet as I go about my daily activities of trying each day to fully live the Gospel.”
Sister Mary is survived by a brother, Ralph Elmendorf of St. Charles. A future memorial Mass will be celebrated at The Sarah Community. Burial was in Resurrection Cemetery.