sister marie louise lemon
December 5, 1923 - January 29, 2012
I am from Georgia, but I'm not a Georgia Peach. I'm a lemon.
With these words, Sister Marie Louise would often introduce herself to the amusement of her hearers. Although she was born in Augusta, Ga., neither of her parents was from that state. Her mother, Marie Louise Gaboury was from Knoxville, Tenn., and her father, Cecil Lemon, was born in Arickaree, Colo. Her father was a doctor; her mother a stay-at-home mom. S. Marie Louise was one of the middle children in a large family. Her shyness as a child, she said, stayed with her most of her life.
After she graduated from high school, she wanted to enter the convent, but her parents suggested she get a job and learn some life skills. So she began at Western Union, a young, scared employee, fearful of not being accurate with information. Later though she became quite proficient on the telephone, and because she had a beautiful singing voice, she became the “Singing Telegram Girl.” She delighted to know that her renditions of Happy Birthday would bring a smile to someone’s face.
S. Marie Louise entered the congregation from Georgia before the Augusta province became part of the St. Louis province. She received the habit and name S. Mary Cecil on March 19, 1946. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fontbonne College in 1970.
Beginning in 1948 and for the next 40 years, S. Marie Louise devoted her life to teaching children in the primary grades. First graders were her specialty. The first 20 or so years she taught in Georgia: Valdosta, Savannah, Brunswick, and Atlanta. After the death of her parents, she felt more comfortable leaving the South. Traveling to Missouri, she taught in St. Louis, University City, and Ferguson, Mo., as well as in Chicago, where, at St. Bede’s, she spent the last 15 years of her teaching life. She felt especially blessed for herself and her students one afternoon when Cardinal Bernadin visited her classroom. Who can even imagine the impact this faithful teacher had on the lives of so many young children for those 40 years?
At age 63, S. Marie Louise determined that her teaching days were over. She moved to Carondelet and, for the next sixteen years, worked in the mail room. As S. Michael Therese Bauer’s assistant, she adapted herself well to learning the intricacies of running the collator, keeping the postage meter up to date, and sorting zip codes for bulk mailing. She was appreciative that S. Michael Therese allowed her to work at her own pace.
She delighted in small beauties. One of her favorite, joyful things to do was to purchase a caterpillar from the Butterfly House, take it to her room at Carondelet, and wait patiently for it to transform itself into a beautiful Monarch. Then, carrying it to the outside back yard, she set it free among the flowers and trees, watching it flutter off. Indeed, she may not have been a “Georgia Peach” but she was a kind and gifted sister to our community and to the thousands of children she taught. May she rest in peace.
S. Rita Louise Huebner
S. Kathleen Karbowski