Eulogy for Sister Nancy Meade — Dec. 10, 1938 – Oct. 14, 2019

October 17, 2019 by

Vigil: Oct. 17, 2019 at the Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Faye Huelsmann

I am privileged to share some of the life of Sister Nancy.

Music and musicals — only two of the gifts that defined Sister Nancy Helen Meade’s life. Nancy had a naturally cheery and welcoming smile and typically called people ‘sweety’ or ‘honey’. Even as I touched her arm to get her attention when she was bent over and simply waiting, waiting … she asked, “Honey, What can I do for you?”

Nancy was born Dec. 10, 1938, in Abilene, Kan., to Cornelius Samuel Meade and Minnie Belle Lake. Born two months early and weighing 3 pounds, she was baptized immediately. Nancy was the youngest of six children. She had three brothers and two sisters, all of whom are deceased. Her sisters were Frances and Mary Ann. Her brothers were Jack, Robert and Larry. She has several living nieces and nephews.

Nancy’s brother, Jack, gave her the nickname “Bird” during their early years because she was always singing.

After completing grade and high school in Abilene, she attended MaryMount College in the fall of 1957. Her plans were to major in music and chemistry and maybe be a med-tech since she had a sister who was a med-tech. During that year, Nancy made the decision to follow a religious vocation. I quote from an article written about Nancy when she celebrated 25 years of service in Boonville, Mo. About her vocation, she said, “You don’t really decide to become a sister. It’s like there’s this little voice that keeps bugging you saying, ‘Maybe this is the kind of work you need to be doing. Do the Lord’s work.’ ”

The following September 1958, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, the sisters who opened and staffed MaryMount College. She stated that she has never ever regretted the decision to become a sister.

Following her formation years, she was assigned to Aurora, Ill., to teach music, her first love and her first mission. She taught classroom music in the following years in Gladstone, Mich., and then went to Boonville, Mo., where she spent a total of 28 years. She also gave piano lessons.

She taught music in New Mexico for two years before returning to Boonville. During all those years she also obtained a master’s degree in music education from the University of Colorado, a degree in theater from Stephen’s College and obtained a certificate in youth ministry.

In regard to her music, she said she really loved doing musicals. To quote her, she said, “It was a blast.” For many years she involved the junior high students from the Catholic school and local community in the production of many musicals. Asked which was her favorite musical she readily said, “Peter Pan.” This even included the flying part! She had many who helped her in whatever way they could. A few of the other musicals she directed were “Oliver,” “Brigadoon, “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Oklahoma.” She produced a musical every year in Boonville during her years there. Someone told me she had it down to a science and each year most of the same crews came back to do their part, such as lighting, piano help and construction.

The students vied for playing the chosen main characters. Boonville’s famous Thespian Hall Theatre invited her to use their location after several seasons. That was a rewarding invitation! Those who worked with her acknowledged how good she was at getting people involved. Indeed, there was plenty to do and Nancy did a good job of directing so that everything ran smoothly.

In addition, she made sure you were having fun while you worked.

Nancy was accomplished in being the youth minister in the parish, a ministry she was invited to do in the 90s. She accepted this work after being assured that she could still teach religion in the school and work with the youth the rest of the time.

She loved taking students on trips to Washington D.C., helping with youth retreats and offering support to student groups. I imagine she went canoeing with some of them. Certainly Nancy loved canoeing and in one incident they got in a swirl and were dumped from their canoe — along with her dog — but managed to hang on to a log until they were rescued.

Nancy said she quit working when her hearing became impaired.

That was about 2004. Nancy was always an avid reader and during retirement years she had time to read. Those who supplied books to her had a hard time keeping up with her.

Even though she was retired, she did accept an invitation from Sister Pat Lewter and myself to come to Grand Junction, Colo., to live with us and help at our counseling center with office work for a year. She took on a project of making about 15 drums from various items she collected, decorated them and taught drumming to some of the adolescent groups held at CEC.

Now for a fun incident! A sister friend of hers from The Sisters of Charity, Linda Dean, lived in Grand Junction. Before Nancy knew it, her friend had talked her into submitting a peach pie for the Peach Festival held every year in Palisade. She had a delicious fresh peach pie recipe and to the astonishment of all of us, she won first prize! And of course, I got her recipe.

In her life history she stated that while living at the Motherhouse, she enjoyed helping out with jobs that needed to be done such as helping in the vegetable room — all the veggies brought in from the garden needed to be prepped!

Also included in what she said about her final years was, “My desire now is to grow spiritually through making retreats, reading and sharing with others. I am grateful for having grown up in a wonderful family. We loved each other, prayed together and shared experiences together. I loved the Mass and my years as a Sister of St. Joseph.”

In summary, I believe Maxim 64 fits her life: “ Strive to be kind always to everyone and unkind to no one.”

Memorials for Sister Nancy Meade may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/ Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901.

To make an online donation in Sister Nancy Meade’s memory, click on the button below:

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