Sister Mary Jean Crumb

(NEWS ARTICLE) Sister Mary Jean Crumb, an Ursuline nun who taught nursing students at the former Mary Manse College and was affectionately called "Sister Chem," by her students at St. Ursula Academy, died Friday in the Ursline Center. She was 88.

She died from congestive heart failure, said Sister Kathleen Padden of the Ursuline Sisters of Toledo, adding that she moved into the center on Indian Road about seven months ago.

Sister Mary Jean taught for 60 years at the elementary, high school, and college levels, and then continued in education by tutoring high school students.

She told The Blade in 2006 that she inherited her love of teaching from her father, who was a chemistry teacher in her hometown, Cleveland.

After graduating from Rocky River High School, she enrolled in St. Joseph's College in Emmitsburg, Md., where she earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

She had planned to be a lab technician, but instead decided on a religious vocation.

"I don't know exactly why I entered [the convent]. I just know I fought it tooth and nail," she said in The Blade article. "I guess [the decision to join the convent] was the Holy Spirit at work."

She entered the Ursuline Convent in Toledo on Sept. 8, 1946, after working as a counselor at the former Camp Ladyglen, which was held during the summers at Nazareth Hall near Grand Rapids, Ohio. She professed her vows in 1949.

Sister Mary Jean taught for several years each at St. Angela Hall in the Old West End and at Good Shepherd School in East Toledo before she started working on her master's degree in chemistry at the University of Detroit in the mid 1950s.

However, Sister Kathleen said Sister Mary Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to withdraw from the college for surgery and treatment. She resumed her studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning a master's degree. She also obtained National Science Foundation grants to take classes at Indiana University, Penn State University, and the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.

After receiving her master's degree, Sister Mary Jean taught chemistry at the former Mary Manse College, instructing nursing students from Mercy Hospital and St. Vincent Hospital.

When the college was closed in 1975, she went to St. Ursula Academy, where she taught chemistry and advanced placement chemistry. It was at the high school that students called her "Sister Chem."

"She use to sort of say, 'Oh I don't want to be known as Sister Chem,' but I think she was really grateful that they remembered her," Sister Kathleen said.

Sister Mary Jean retired from the school in 2006 and began tutoring students who teachers thought needed additional help in chemistry. She was tutoring students as recently as last year.

In retirement, Sister Mary Jean volunteered several days a week at Hospice of Northwest Ohio on South Detroit Avenue and helped sisters in the community by driving them to appointments or wherever they needed to go.

She also was an avid Cleveland Indians fan, and Sister Kathleen, also an Indians supporter, recalled they used to enjoy discussing the 1948 World Series title team and the team's player-manager Lou Boudreau.

Surviving is her brother, Ralph Crumb. Visitation will be after 3 p.m. today in the Ursuline Center Chapel, where a vigil service will be at 7 p.m. The funeral liturgy will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the chapel. Tributes are suggested to the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart.

Published in The Blade on Dec. 3, 2012