Sister Verda Clare Eichner, OSB, 83, died October 19, 2012, in hospice at St. Mary’s Medical Center. She was born on July 9, 1929, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the third child of Frank Xavier and Clara Elizabeth Eichner. She entered St. Scholastica Monastery January 2, 1952 and professed her monastic vows July 11, 1953. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee June 4, 1978, her Golden Jubilee on June 15, 2003.
Before Sister Verda Clare entered the Monastery, she had 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 entering the Monastery she was a school nurse at The College of St. Scholastica during the 1953-54 school year. From 1954 to 1958 she served as head nurse of Pediatrics at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.
Sister Verda Clare greatly loved her health care ministry and St. Mary’s Medical Center with its Benedictine mission of caring for the sick, especially 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 wanted 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 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, a position she held until 2000. She moved from hands-on nursing to administrative work. This move was very important to her. As she said, “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.” Her last administrative appointment was as Vice President of Catholic Health Care Ministry at St. Mary’s in 2004. She also served St. Scholastica Monastery as Canonical Treasurer in 2011.
At the wake, many spoke of her kind and gentle presence. The presider at the Mass of Christian Burial noted that he admired her ability to go quietly about in her own way, making things happen. Another person, impressed with her quality of persistence, said that when she wanted to start a neo-natal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center, despite significant challenges, she persevered until it became a reality. A dear friend of hers said Ralph Waldo Emerson summed up her sterling character in these words:
To appreciate beauty, to find the best
in others; to leave the world a bit
better, whether by a healthy child
a garden patch or redeemed
social condition; to know even
one life has breathed easier because
you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
Sister Verda Clare was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Clara Eichner and her brothers Bob and Tom Eichner. In addition to the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, she is survived by sisters-in-law Sylvia and Nell Eichner, and many devoted nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues, and her dear friend Kathy Noble.
A wake service was held on Friday, October 26, 2012, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel with visitation from 6 to 7 p.m. and after the wake service until 9 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, October 27, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. with visitation one hour before the Mass. Father Tom Foster was the presider. Interment was in Gethsemane Cemetery.
- Staff nurse, Milwaukee Children’s Hospital
- Staff nurse, St. Mary’s Hospital, Long Beach, CA
- Staff nurse, Milwaukee County Home for Dependent Children
- School nurse, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN
- Head nurse of Pediatrics, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, MN
- Director of Nursing Service, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, MN
- Assistant Administrator in the Division of Nursing, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, MN
- Vice President of Nursing, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, MN
- Vice President of Catholic Healthcare Ministry, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, MN
- Senior Executive Catholic Healthcare Ministry, SMDC Health System, Duluth, MN
- American Organization of Nurse Executives
- Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing
- National League of Nursing
- Minnesota League of Nursing
- College of St. Scholastica
- Benedictine Health Center
- Benedictine Health System
- Benedictine Sisters Benevolent Association
- Essentia Health System