Gertrude Freeman died at a most glorious time: the Easter season, beginning of spring, and eight days before her own birthday. May these days of celebration provide great comfort to all who knew and dearly loved her.
Born in Franklin, Minn., on April 29, 1909, to Kathryn Brown and Charles Freeman, Gertrude was the sixth of seven children. Like her brothers and sisters, she was educated in the Franklin Public Schools. During the summer the Freeman children along with other Catholic children, attended catechism classes taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Perhaps it was that interactions to the CSJs that brought Gertrude to the College of St. Catherine, and it was from there, in the middle of her senior year, that she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1931.
While Gertrude's undergraduate degree was in English and history, her teaching quickly focused on home economics and she obtained an advance degree in the field. She taught students not only how to prepare a well-balanced meal, but more importantly, how to personally welcome other people into their homes and their lives. Her ministry in education spanned nearly five decades and included inner-city, rural and suburban schools. She was an administrator as well as a teacher, and served as principal or assistant principal at three schools: St. Joseph's Academy, St. Paul; Holy Redeemer, Marshall; and the Academy of Holy Angels, Minneapolis. Honesty and compassion marked her relationships with students, parents and teachers.
When she was 60, and at an age when many people would begin to think of retiring, Gertrude decided to study for a certificate in counseling. Once she obtained this, she returned to an academic setting, this time St. Mary's Junior College where she advised many young people not only about their academic endeavors, but about their personal concerns as well. Positive and upbeat, Gertrude influenced many lives.
Time permitting, her summers offered opportunities not only for more study, but for travel and camping as well, and this despite years of back pain. After Gertrude retired to Bethany in 1981, she continued to work as a volunteer at St. Mary's Hospital Pain Clinic. She wanted to encourage others who experienced unusual pain, and share with them her own ability of learning how to live with pain. Never did any family or community member feel that Gertrude's life evolved around her physical limitations.
Gertrude's family was always an important part of her life, and with them she enjoyed holiday celebrations. As it became more difficult for her to get around, her family came to be with her – nieces and nephews to the fourth generation. Throughout her life, she was a fun and easy person to be with; she was kind and loving, and did whatever she could to make people feel "at home."
As the news of her death was announced at Bethany, ones sister summed up what so many were feeling: "All I know is that I loved her dearly."
Gertrude died at Bethany Convent on April 21. A visitation service was held at Bethany on April 24 and 25; the Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 25. Interment followed at Resurrection Cemetery. She is survived by nieces and nephews, and their families.
- 7th born
Became a nun.
Final Vows 8-15-1936
Name in Religion, Sr. Gertrude.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
Born April 29, 1909 in Franklin, Minnesota, to Charles Freeman and Kathryn Brown, the child christened Gertrude Catherine was their youngest child. She already had four sisters and 2 brothers. The oldest in the family was a girl, Ethel, a nurse at St. Joseph's hospital in St. Paul. Ethel was a private nurse and a real bedside nurse. Everybody knew and loved Ethel. Living across the street from the St. Paul Seminary, she fed the young men when they were well and cared for them when, as priests, they became ill.
The youngest child lived all her life under the patronage of St. Gertrude. Her home was a warm and hospitable one. The father knew everybody in town and everybody knew him. He owned the furniture store and, as usual in smaller towns, was also the funeral director. The mother was a caring person each year boarding the school teachers. She was a great cook and the baking skills were said to be the best in town.
Sister Gertrude got her early education, grade and hight school in the Franklin schools but eventually she enrolled at the College of St. Catherine where she majored in English and History and continued to get to know the Sisters of St. Joseph.
She first met them in summer catechism classes in Franklin. She continued to like what she saw and entered their congregation in the middle of her senior year, February 1931. And she never stopped learning.
English and History may have been her majors, but she was soon asked to teach Home Economics and she worked to learn that. I think she probably inherited a good many capabilities and skills from her mother!
She spent many years in school administration, having experiences in all our high schools in Minnesota except Derham Hall. She could be registrar, principal or counsellor, perhaps occasionally a combination. Preparation for these assignments took her to various institutions of higher learning. University of Minnesota, Washington U. in Seattle and St. Louis University. To learn counseling skills she went to south Dakota State in Brooklings.
All her travels were not primarily for study. A trip to Hawaii and one to Canada were delightful, pleasurable experiences. Just as delightful but in a different way were the "tours", the high school trips made each year with the high school seniors. It was by rail, plane and bus that she and they enjoyed Chicago, Boston, New York and Washington. The highlight of one trip was the meeting with John F. Kennedy in the White House. Nobody who was there ever forgot it.
Sister Gertrude liked to sew and do craft work, and kind of craft work. That helped her to fit right in to Bethany when she came in April, 1981. We hope your years where have been fruitful and joyful, and that every added day will bring you added joy!.