Sister Valorie Nehl, FSE, beloved educator, dies in Michigan

LOWELL, MI (09-30-2011) - Sister Valorie Nehl, FSE greeted Sister Death on Friday, September 30th, three days before her 92nd birthday, October 3rd, which is also the anniversary of the death of St. Francis of Assisi, a day celebrated by Franciscans around the world as “Transitus Day.” Like St. Francis’ death, Sister Valorie’s transitus from this life to eternal life was peaceful and prayerful. Sister Valorie’s Community gathered around her and prayed for her as she went to meet Christ, her Spouse, to whom she had dedicated her life as a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist.

Sister Valorie Nehl, left, with Sister Bernice Blaha, at the Franciscan Center, Lowell, Michigan.
Photo courtesy of ©2009 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Photographer: Jim Judkis.

Sister Valorie’s parents, Katherine and George Nehl in 1919 named their newborn twin daughters Irma and Irene. Irene died as a child. Irma was raised in Durand, Wisconsin, and entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in 1936. As a novice, Irma was given the name Sister Valorie. Sister’s other siblings included two brothers, Cletus and Francis, who have predeceased her and her sister, Sister Bernadette of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wisconsin. In 1973 Sister Valorie became a founding member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. In June 2010, Sister celebrated her 70th anniversary of religious vows.

Sister Valorie, left, typically enjoying a laugh with Sister Colleen Ann Nagle.

Sister Valorie was known in the Community and by many grateful parents and children as an excellent, masterful principal and teacher. She taught children and was administrator in elementary schools in Wisconsin, Iowa, Idaho and Oregon. From 1968-1970 she was the Coordinator of Elementary Education in the Southern Province of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. In Astoria, Oregon, at Star of the Sea School, she introduced a creative, individualized instruction program. She was the principal of Star of the Sea School from 1974-1988. Her educational administration skills, her friendly, outgoing personality and her ready laugh served to create a warm, positive atmosphere in the Catholic schools where she worked. From Oregon, Sister Valorie moved to Lowell, Michigan, where she assumed the directorship of the Preschool at the Franciscan Life Process Center. In her later years, Sister Valorie participated in Franciscan Friends, a group of volunteers of the Franciscan Life Process Center, Lowell, who meet each week to work on multiple creative projects for the center.

Sister obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Education from Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin and a Master of Education degree from DePaul University in Chicago. In post graduate studies she attended Viterbo University, University of Dayton, Catholic University of America and Oregon State University.

The Franciscan Sisters and Brothers of the Eucharist and the Franciscan Apprentices world wide join Sister Valorie’s family in grieving her death and celebrating her life. Sister was predeceased by fourteen Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and a Franciscan Brother of the Eucharist.

In the Franciscan tradition of celebrating the Transitus of St. Francis the evening of October 3rd each year, a vigil for Sister Valorie will be held from 3:30-5:00 p.m. and from 7:00-8:30 p.m. with the rosary prayed at 7:30 p.m. in the Annunciation Chapel of the Franciscan Life Process Center, 11650 Downes Street, Lowell.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, at the Franciscan Life Process Center followed by burial in the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist’s cemetery.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Sister Patricia Glass, FSE, Funeral Director, Meriden, Connecticut and Roth-Gerst Funeral Home, Lowell.

Sister Valorie liked gardening and working in the greenhouse and she had a special love of pansies. At left, she is pictured planting pansies in one of the raised beds at the Franciscan Sisters' center in Lowell. For her memorial card, the Sisters chose to honor her expertise in education and her love of pansies.

Above photo courtesy of ©2009 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Photographer: Jim Judkis.
Memories of Mother Valorie, A Great Principal
by James Leo Rzegocki, Seattle, Washington