Sister Verda Clare Eichner died October 19, 2012, in hospice at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Sister was in her sixtieth year of Benedictine Monastic Profession.
On July 9, 1929, June Ivon was the third child born to Frank Xavier and Clara Elizabeth Eichner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sister Verda Clare entered St Scholastica Monastery January 2, 1952. She professed her Triennial Vows July 11, 1953, and her Perpetual Vows July 11, 1956. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee on June 4, 1978, and her Golden Jubilee on June 15, 2003.
Before she entered the Monastery, she graduated in 1950 from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and worked subsequently as a staff nurse in Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. She also worked as a staff nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital, Long Beach, California and at Milwaukee County Home for Dependent Children. After she entered St. Scholastica Monastery in 1952, she worked as School Nurse at the College of St. Scholastica during the 1953-4 school year. From 1954 to 1958 she served as Head Nurse of Pediatrics at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.
Sister Verda Clare had a great love for Catholic Health Care, for St. Mary’s Medical Center with its Benedictine Mission of caring for the sick, and for the many children she served each day with her quiet presence and deep spirituality. As medical technologies and services became increasingly more complex, she wished to augment her training and experience with more advanced study. She attended Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. from 1958 to 1961, earning a B.S. Degree in Nursing and an M.S. in Nursing Administration.
In 1961 she returned to her Benedictine Community and to St. Mary’s Medical Center to continue her dedicated ministry as Director of Nursing Service until 1964, when she was given new responsibilities as Assistant Administrator in the Division of Nursing. A natural leader, she was promoted to Vice President of Nursing in 1980, and held that position until 2000. She moved from hands-on nursing to administrative work, and, in the process, she noted, “I had to realize my service to others was not that of immediate reward but of paving the way to enable others to provide needed service. An example of this is never personally providing care to a premature newborn with respiratory distress syndrome, but contributing very directly toward establishing a program which would allow these babies not only to live but to be healthy persons.” The neo-natal intensive care unit opened in April of 1982, and was a project very dear to her heart.
Sister’s last administrative appointment was to Vice President of Catholic Health Care Ministry at St. Mary’s in 2004. Throughout her many years of service, she belonged to numerous professional nursing associations and served on a number of Boards. She also served St. Scholastica Monastery in the role of Canonical Treasurer in 2011 for a short time.
Sister Verda Clare was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Clara Eichner, and her brothers Bob and Tom Eichner. In addition to her Benedictine Sisters, she is survived by sisters-in-law Sylvia Eichner and Nell Eichner, many devoted nieces and nephews, friends and colleagues, and her dear friend Kathy Noble.
On Friday, October 26, 2012, there will be visitation from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., and after the Wake Service at 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at St. Scholastica Monastery. The Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday, October 27 at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be one hour before the Mass. Father Tom Foster will preside. Memorials to St. Scholastica Monastery, 1001 Kenwood Ave., Duluth, MN 55811 or to St. Mary’s Medical Center, New Born Intensive Care Unit, C/O Essentia Health Foundation, 400 E. 3rd Street, Duluth, MN 55805 are preferred. Arrangements are by Dougherty Funeral Home.