sister margaret schmidt

September 22, 1921-April 21, 2014

She lived in great simplicity, a loving, prayerful woman.

Sister Margaret Schmidt spent her energy being helpful. Friends describe her as “always there to talk when you needed someone…kind, compassionate…a loyal friend…a lovely person.” S. Mary McGlone remembers, “She was exceptionally attentive to …anyone’s needs….not tangled up in anyone’s affairs, just there as a helpful, prayerful woman.”

Perhaps something of her gift of being quietly aware of what needed to be done and doing it without much fuss was learned growing up in her family. She was born in St. Louis on September 22, 1921, the seventh of eight children born to Fredrick and Mary Catherine (Becker) Schmidt. Her parents named her Hedwig.

Her mother died when Hedwig was 16, in her junior year at Sts. Peter and Paul High School. Lack of funds closed the school at the year’s end. After graduating from St. Alphonsus (Rock), she worked in a dime store and did babysitting until she was hired as a secretary at a coffee company. That company was sold to Thomas Hawken Coffee Brokerage. Hedwig continued working there, learning how to roast the coffee and to be a coffee-tester. Twice a month she earned $17.50 plus two pounds of Eagle Fresh ground coffee.

Hedwig was dating a young man who asked her to marry him. Because she had some thoughts of religious life, she faced a hard decision. Her father was seriously ill at this time and died in March of 1942. Hedwig spent several months trying to decide what to do. She made up her mind to enter two weeks before her entrance date, September 15, 1942.

On March 19, 1943, she received the habit and the name S. Margaret Antone. Her bachelor’s degree in education was from Fontbonne College (1959); her master’s degree in elementary education administration from the University of Notre Dame (1968).

In 1945 S. Margaret began ministering in Kansas City, Mo., briefly teaching primary/intermediate students at Holy Rosary and then at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. She returned to St. Louis in 1953 to teach at St. Mary Magdalen until 1957. Next she moved to St. Louis Grade School in Englewood, Colo., then to St. Michael in Marquette, Mich., to teach intermediate grades.

S. Margaret was appointed principal, superior and upper grade teacher at Immaculate Conception, Montgomery City, Mo. (1964); followed by St. Mary Cathedral School, Peoria, Ill. (1966); and Sacred Heart, Salem, Mo., from 1967 to1969.

S. Jean Paul Selissen shares a story from Peoria. S. Margaret was in charge of the books—a chore that she was not particularly fond of when …“one day …Peoria had tornado warnings. We all dutifully went to the basement. Most of us just brought ourselves, but S. Margaret brought along the books she had just balanced and the information she did not want to lose. Can you imagine her dismay when S. Brigid Massey and I opened the cellar doors to look at the clouds’ progress?”

Returning to classroom teaching only, S. Margaret taught at St. John the Evangelist, Valdosta, Ga., (1969); Ste. Genevieve du Bois, St. Louis, Mo. (1970); and Our Lady of Lourdes, University City, Mo. (1973). Her last years of teaching were spent at Holy Cross, Champaign, Ill. teaching primary grades (1978-1980) and as a tutor until 1982.

S. Margaret became a homemaker for the St. Louis Province Office of Aging (1982). She volunteered at the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging (1986), and in 1987 became a counselor for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. She performed various services as a staff member at the Province House (1991) and assisted with clerical work in the Health Care Claims Office (1999).

In 2005 Sister Margaret retired to Nazareth Living Center serving in prayer and witness.                                                                                                                

Helen Oates        

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