Wheeler, S. Jean Marie D.C. MENANDS Daughter of Charity, Sister Jean Marie Wheeler (Suzanne Theresa) died at St. Louise House, Menands on Thursday, January 17, 2013 surrounded by her Sisters in community, staff and friends. Sister Jean Marie, daughter of Nina Marie Barr and Ferdnand C. Wheeler, was born in Chicago and grew up in the Bronx with her six sisters. She entered the Daughters of Charity in 1932 and spent her years of ministry in a variety of educational settings. Sister was an elementary school teacher in Cathedral, Syracuse, N.Y.; St James School, Johnson City, N.Y. and Catherine Laboure School, Harrisburg, Pa. At Kennedy Child Study Center in New York City Sister worked with the retarded. After earning her master's degree in education from St. John's University, Jamaica, N.Y., Sister became principal of St. John's Alternative Elementary School in Albany, an ungraded school for 108 children performing far below grade level. Sister was convinced that the only way out of poverty was a good foundation in basic skills. Among her favorite years were the 25 she spent in St. John's Bedford Styvesant, Brooklyn. Here Sister worked with youngsters and then with illiterate adults who wanted to learn basic skills. She discovered their needs were as great as the children she had taught. For the youngsters she creatively designed the high ceiling learning center into three levels. This provided peace and privacy for the children while developing their basic skills. Because of her innovative work for the poor in these programs and in Albany and her deep understanding and empathy with problem children, Sister Jean Marie received and Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Niagara University in 1988. Sister Jean Marie had four Sisters who became Daughters of Charity and one who became a Religious of the Sacred Heart. Sister was welcomed to St. Louise House in 2000. In her later years her great pleasure was to enjoy her companions, to observe what was going on around her, and to read. Her diminishment of hearing made her somewhat isolated, so reading was a gift. Sister Jean Marie is predeceased by her parents and five of her sisters, Sister Mary Cecilia a Religious of the Sacred Heart, Nina Wheeler Blake, Hilda Barr Dixon, Sister Madeleine and Sister Zoe both of which were Daughters of Charity. She was joined by her sister, Sister Elaine, Daughter of Charity into eternity on Friday, January 18, 2013. Sister Jean Marie is survived by her two nephews, Wheeler Dixon of Lincoln, Neb. and Phillip (Po) Karczewski of Tacoma, Wash. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, January 24, 2013 in the De Paul House Chapel at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow in St Agnes Cemetery, Menands. A wake service remembering Sister will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. Calling hours will be from 4 p.m. on January 23, when the body returns and is blessed in the DePaul House Chapel, 96 Menand Road, Albany, NY 12204. Donations may be made to the Daughters of Charity, 4330 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63108-2622. For on line condolences, please visit danielkeenanfuneralhome.com
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Published in Albany Times Union on Jan. 22, 2013