Sister Mary Richard Boo, 85, died peacefully on Thursday, November 13, 2014, at Essentia Health East St. Mary’s Medical Center. Margaret (Margie) Boo was born on June 20, 1929, in Pine City, MN, the third child of Clinton and Julia (Hurley) Boo. After graduating from Pine City High School in 1947, following her mother’s example, she enrolled at The College of St. Scholastica, a decisive factor in her life’s journey. In January 1952, she entered the Benedictine Community of St. Scholastica and began her life as a religious. She professed her triennial vows on July 11, 1953, and perpetual vows on July 11, 1956. On June 15, 2003, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee and on August 11, 2013, her Diamond Jubilee, commemorating sixty years of monastic profession.
Sister Mary Richard graduated in 1951 with a B.A. degree in English from The College of St. Scholastica; subsequently, she earned an M.A. from St. Louis University in 1960 and a PhD. from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1966, both in English, with minors in journalism, philosophy, art, and history. Her M.A. thesis was a study of the poetics of Emily Dickinson; her dissertation, Dicken’s Myth of Society.
A brilliant teacher with a cogent sense of humor and keen understanding of and compassion for her students, Sister Mary Richard spent the first ten years of her professional career as a teacher of English, art, and journalism at Stanbrook Hall High School, Duluth. From 1961-1963, then again in 1966, she served as an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of English at The College of St. Scholastica. After a period of postdoctoral study in administration at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., Sister Mary Richard returned to The College of St. Scholastica as its president, from 1967-1971.
During Sister Mary Richard’s presidency, she oversaw several accomplishments significant in the growth of the College, among them: the construction of the Science building; the beginning of co-education at the College; the establishment of a Board of Trustees, which included lay members as well as sisters; and the initiation of a faculty-student Senate. During that time she also served a term as Vice-president and President-elect of the Association of Minnesota Colleges.
After Sister Mary Richard’s resignation as College President in 1971, she remained at the College as a professor in the Department of Language and Literature. From 1979-1980, she served as Chair of that Department; then from 1981-1985, as Chair of the Humanities Division.
As a faculty member she chaired or served on several crucial College committees, i.e. the Committee on Tenure and Promotion, the Faculty Welfare Committee, the Committee on Finances, and the Shea Memorial Lecture Committee.
After receiving The College of St. Scholastica’s Max H. Lavine Award for Excellence in Teaching, she also served on the Lavine Award Committee. Sister Mary Richard was a much-beloved and excellent teacher; both her former high school and college students continued to visit and acclaim her throughout the rest of her years.
Sister Mary Richard was also active in civic and Benedictine Community affairs. She chaired the Benedictine Health Center Board of Directors and served on the Board of Directors of Advocacy Plus (consulting services for the Handicapped) St. Cloud, MN. She served on the Monastery Council, and from 1991-1995 was Secretary of the Benedictine Sisters; from 2008-2011 she wrote the Annals for the Monastery. After her retirement in 1994 she continued as a freelance writer and editor, and was a major contributer to the text of For the Love of Learning: The College of St. Scholastica Story (2011).
Undoubtedly Sister Mary Richard’s best and most widely known publication is the carefully researched and candid history, House of Stone: The Duluth Benedictines (1991). In the Spring 1993 issue of Minnesota History, the reviewer notes that “Sister Boo approaches her topic from a surprisingly feminist perspective…as a community history, House of Stone is an impressive and often moving story of a remarkable society of religious women” (212).
Herself a most remarkable woman, Sister Mary Richard, despite a life-long physical handicap, never deterred from any action or work that kept her from accomplishing whatever she set out to do. In 2011 she moved to Benet Hall, the Monastery’s nursing section, where she continued what perhaps she most loved: feeding the birds and walking friends’ dogs, especially Murphy, a cockapoo belonging to a Westwood resident who also became one of her dearest friends.
Courageous, confident, witty as long as she lived, Sister Mary Richard inspired all with whom she lived and worked.
Sister Mary Richard was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers Richard and Daniel Boo. She is survived by her sister Julie Boo, CSJ, of St. Paul, cousins, including Ben and Mary Boo of Duluth, several nieces, nephews, many devoted friends and her monastic community.
A Wake Service/Morning Prayer was held on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, St. Scholastica Monastery at 9:30 a.m. Visitation followed until the Mass of Christian Burial at 10:45, with Father Brian Schultz presiding. The Rite of Committal to the Earth was at Gethsemane Cemetery. Memorials to St. Scholastica Monastery are preferred.