Sister Margaret Eugene Tucker Celebrates 100th!
On February 17, Sister Margaret Eugene celebrated her birthday at Nazareth Living Center, surrounded by her CSJ community, Nazareth residents and friends who shared their memories, gratitude and love with her.
Sister Margaret Eugene Tucker reached an impressive milestone, turning 100 years old on February 18. But what’s more impressive than the number is her spirit that has sustained her and blessed so many throughout these years.
Born in East Peoria, Illinois, Mary Angelica was the oldest of three children. Although her father was a railroad worker, the family moved to a fruit farm when she was two years old. Her mother’s family worked the farm, and Mary Angelica began putting her hands to the earth.
“I used to play with bugs as a child,” says Sister Margaret Eugene. “My mother said I was a hopeless case. But I guess I was born loving science. I think it was in my genes.”
This life-long science lover came to be a highly-regarded biology professor at Fontbonne College, teaching there from 1960-1983. Sister Ruth Margaret Raupp, who worked at Fontbonne in the 1960s, says, “All the kids wanted to be in her classes. The biology section of the college was special because of her.”
Sister Margaret Eugene’s love of knowledge has not ceased in her twilight years. Sister Joan Kaucher of the Community Life Team at Nazareth says, “She’s right with it. She reads America Magazine, National Geographic, Missouri Conservationist, and Mayo Clinic reports. She even hands out articles to people who she thinks needs to read them.”
“Thank God I can still read!” Sister Margaret quips, citing this as one reason for her longevity.
She also credits her ability to foster life-long relationships, to her father who lived until age 92. “I’m my father. He had this kind of lifespan and still, he had friends for a lifetime.”
Sister Margaret Eugene says it’s remarkable that she is able to stay connected with so many people, like long-time friend Sister Julie Guillot, who was Sister Margaret Eugene’s high school student in Mobile, Alabama.
Sister Julie says, “Whenever Sister Margaret was in the kitchen, she would call my mother to ask me to bring her things on the way home. It was fun doing her shopping.”
“Julie was my ‘go-to’ person.” Sister Margaret Eugene says. “It was amazing of her to do that.”
Sister Margaret Eugene also made some long-term friends at short-time ministries, like Sister Mary Charity Dalton, with whom she taught at St. Joseph’s Academy in the 1950s. “It was only four years when Mary Charity was with me. I think about that—where we’ve been, what we’ve done and how we are still friends.” Sister Margaret Eugene says.
Sister Mary Joan Dacey, who lived with her at St. Joseph’s Academy Convent in 2007 where Sister Margaret Eugene was the convent administrator from 1986 to 2007, says, “She’s a special lady. She was just so loving and caring and wonderful for everybody. She didn’t put anyone aside.”
Sister Margaret Eugene will tell you the recipe to her longevity includes good genes, a great memory and the best of friends, sprinkled with a bit of perseverance. “My advice? Just keep at it,” she says.
However, Sister Mary Margaret Lazio of province leadership, would add one more ingredient to her list—joy. “She’s one of the happiest people I have ever known—always a smile, always welcoming. She’s a true Sister of St. Joseph. Top of the line!”