Sister Betty (Melanie) Daugherty, FSPA

Sister Betty Daugherty, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 88, died on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at Dennis and Donna Oldorf Hospice of Mercy in Hiawatha, Iowa. She was in the sixty-fourth year of her religious profession.

Born in Bellevue, Iowa on October 4, 1931, Elizabeth Ann was the daughter of Cornelius Vincent and Teresa Mary (Keuter) Daugherty. She had fond memories of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who taught her at St. Joseph’s Grade and High School in Bellevue. The thought of entering religious life entered her mind after graduating from high school; however, she stayed home to help on the family farm for a year and one-half. Betty then spent a year working at a department store in Dubuque. Yet the call to religious life remained strong. In August 1952, Betty entered St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Betty was received into the novitiate on Aug. 12, 1953, and was given the name Sister Melanie. She later went back to her baptismal name. Sister Betty made first profession of vows on Aug. 12, 1955.

Over the course of 12 years, Sister Betty ministered as a middle grade teacher in Greenwood, Wisconsin, Spokane, Washington (at St. Augustine) and La Crosse (at Trinity and St. James). She served as principal at Holy Spirit School in Carroll, Iowa for two years. Sister Betty received a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in history from Viterbo College (University) and a master’s degree in English literature from Notre Dame University. In 1968, Sister Betty moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was teacher and director of religious education for five years. She then ministered in the Tulsa Diocesan School Office for seven years and two years as editor of the diocesan paper. She served in the FSPA Communications Office in La Crosse from 1981 to 1985, when she was elected Regional Leader of the Central Region, headquartered in Hiawatha, Iowa. In 1993, after completing her term in community leadership, Sister Betty served as part of the core group which founded Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha.

Sister Betty continued to be an active member of the Prairiewoods community as a spiritual director, retreat director, program coordinator, program presenter and librarian. She designed and assisted in the construction of the labyrinth and Cosmic Walk at Prairiewoods. She volunteered in numerous other areas at the center until her death, even serving as greeter at the Prairiewoods’ annual Christmas party on December 13. In her not-so-spare time, Sister Betty would frequently write articles on eco-spirituality, the environment and the Universe Story.                                                                                

Community members, family and friends will remember Sister Betty as a true woman of the Universe. She was known in her community for her passionate care of the environment. She had a great love of the woods, the animals and the garden at Prairiewoods. Thomas Berry, one of Sister Betty’s favorite authors, says, "For in the end, the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration. It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself." Sister Betty celebrated life as a teacher, administrator, writer and spiritual leader. Her sparkling eyes, peaceful smile and gentle words invited all to celebrate life and be one with the Universe.

Sister Betty is survived by her religious community, including her sister, Sister Gertrude Daugherty, Villa St. Joseph, La Crosse, and her sister-in-laws Rita Daugherty, Bellevue, Iowa, and Agnes Daugherty, California, as well as many nephews and nieces. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers: Neil, Charles, William, John, Patrick and Thomas; and her sisters: Jean Daugherty, Mary Lou Koppes and Helen Mulligan.

Sister Betty had requested to be cremated. There will be a celebration of her life at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha, Iowa on Sunday, Dec. 22, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  A wake service will be held for her at St. Rose Convent, 912 Market St., La Crosse on Friday, Dec. 27, at 6:30 p.m. and the Mass of Christian Burial at Mary of the Angels Chapel on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 10 a.m. Burial will take place at the natural cemetery at Villa St. Joseph, La Crosse.

Cedar Memorial Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is assisting with the arrangements.

Memorials may be sent to Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, IA 52233-1277.

Honoring Sister Betty (Melanie) Daugherty, FSPA

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