meet alexander "babe" and shirley kuhn

Alexander “Babe” Kuhn remem­bers as a very little boy riding in his dad’s 1939 DeSoto on several 200-mile trips from LaGrange, Illinois, to Indianapolis. “Can you imag­ine?” his father would say. “Someday, we’ll be going 60 miles an hour along here!”

Babe was on his way to visit his dad’s sister, Aunt Clare, whom Babe had come to know and love as Sister Mary

Alexandra, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. “My father had 10 siblings,” Babe recalls. “But he and my mother always stayed very close to Sister Alexandra, taking her on trips with them and visiting her often.”

That familial tie remained strong for Babe as he grew up. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he finished college, married and began a family. He and his wife Shirley corre­sponded with and visited their beloved aunt throughout the years.

“And Sister always remembered us on anniversaries and birthdays,” Babe says. “Her cards weren’t just signed. She’d write long, handwritten notes about what was happening at the convent and what she was doing.”

Babe says, “We heard about her teaching adventures, all the towns she was in. She was a very good chemistry teacher. She told stories of the appreciation of previous students… you know, the only thing the sisters get back from all they give is someone coming back and saying, ‘Thank You.’”

In 2001, Babe and Shirley arranged for S. Alexandra, then in her 92nd year, to travel from her home at St. Louis’ Nazareth Living Center to attend the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

The Kuhns knew they would like to support the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in a special way, one that would both help the congregation’s ministries and show their love for Aunt Clare. “So at one point I told Sister I was going to give her a gift, a sum rep­resenting every year she had been in the convent.”

A few years ago, after the aging Sister Alexandra reached her 100th birthday, Babe sensed it was time to fulfill his promise and came to visit his beloved aunt.

“I drove down to St. Louis with my daughter. We couldn’t go into see Aunt Clare at Nazareth because there was a quarantine,” Babe says. “There was a lady in the lobby to whom I handed the envelope and asked that it be delivered to her.”

Some hours later, he received a call from Sister Alexandra wanting to acknowledge the gift. She also laughed, saying she showed the check to the nurse in her room who had assisted her in opening the envelope. “Oh, my,” the nurse cried out. “That IS generous!”

Clare Anna (Sister Mary Alexandra) was born Aug. 14, 1910, and died Jan. 25, 2013. As she neared her 100th birthday she was known to say with laughter, “One thing I excel at is age.” Her fellow sisters wrote that she was “always a teacher, always a hard, dedicated worker…she gave and gave until the very end.”

Babe and his wife, who currently live in suburban Chicago, remain very fond of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “We’ve been blessed…and we’re very proud to help them.”

Learn More

Click here to learn more about planned giving or contact Patricia R. Cassens, CFRE, Executive Director of Mission Advancement, at 314-678-0329 or e-mail her at pcassens@csjsl.org.

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