sister rose mary willett

(S. Marie Francis)
June 29, 1929 - December 27, 2015
Conscientious, enjoyed telling stories, loved to travel, a beautiful smile
Francis and Eva Marie (Wheeler) Willett welcomed their daughter Rose Mary on June 29, 1929, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She grew up with three older brothers and a younger sister. While she was still a young child, her parents moved to Hannibal, Missouri. For her entire grade/high school years she attended McCooey Memorial staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 
After high school, Rose Mary worked in an office for two years then entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on September 15, 1949. At her March 1950 reception into the novitiate she received the name Sister Marie Francis. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of St. Teresa in Kansas City (1956). 
St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Louis (1952) was S. Rose Mary’s first mission. Her next assignment (1953) was to be a full-time business student at the College of St. Teresa in Kansas City. Before she could start her studies, an unexpected community need arose so she was reassigned to teach at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kansas City, and then at St. Francis de Sales High School, Denver, Colorado. In June 1954 she began full-time studies at the College of 
St. Teresa. In 1955, before her studies were completed, Sister Rose Mary was assigned to fill yet another need, this time at Assumption Grade School in Kansas City. During that school year and the following summer, she completed the requirements for her degree in business administration. 
The 1956 school year brought her to Marquette, Michigan, to teach at Bishop Baraga High, followed by Valle High School in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, in 1962. Beginning in 1963, Sister Rose Mary taught at Avila College for the next ten years. During that time she earned a master's in economics from the University of Notre Dame (1964). 
S. Rose Mary was a secretary at the St. Joseph Provincialate from 1973 to 1984. 
During a 1984 sabbatical program, S. Rose Mary was a student at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington. She spent this time auditing theology courses, catching up on the changes since Vatican II and sightseeing. Registrar and part-time teacher at St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Louis filled her next six years until she became secretary at DuBourg House in 1991.
In 1992, S. Rose Mary was a development staff worker at St. Joseph Provincial House. Then, from 1996 to 1999, she was part-time receptionist at the Provincial House. At the same time, she served at Nazareth Living Center as the transportation coordinator until her retirement in 2003 at St. Joseph Academy. 
Sister Ida Berresheim lived with her briefly at the Academy: 
I can't help delighting in that picture of her [above] in which she is smiling so joyfully. I can just about hear her laugh as I'm sure she was doing as the photographer tried to take that picture. Rose Mary loved to tell stories and they were usually funny and she would laugh while telling them. In so doing she would have all of us, her hearers, laughing. In so many ways she spread that joy!”
Sister Rita Louise Huebner also lived with S. Rose Mary at the Academy: 
She was our bookkeeper. In that capacity she was always conscientious and faithful to all of us who lived there. Rose Mary loved to travel ... With her friend, S. Helene Wilson, she toured the country, from the beautiful Northwest to Arizona, Yellowstone to California ... She also appreciated her and Helene's many excursions to Lone Elk Park where they always counted on an exciting adventure.
In 2013, S. Rose Mary moved to Nazareth Living Center continuing to volunteer by trimming donated stamps to raise funds for CSJ missions. 
S. Helen Oates
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