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Obituaries



Betty O'Donnell

Betty O'Donnell

Died: Monday, June 07, 2004
Age: 85
Sister Betty O’Donnell, RSM, died Monday, June 7, 2004, at McAuley Retirement Center in Farmington Hills.

Sister Betty was born in Detroit to Joseph and Rose Ann (McNamara) Rothmeyer on Oct. 5, 1918, and christened Elizabeth Jane. She graduated from Sacred Heart Academy, attended St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., and graduated from the University of Detroit.

During World War II, she enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed in North Carolina, where she contracted polio which left her with a paralyzed leg.

In 1948, she married James O’Donnell, and together they raised a family, flew airplanes and spent vacations duck hunting, canoeing, camping and visiting parks. She was an active supporter of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Historical Museum.

Sister Betty earned a master’s degree in education from Wayne State University in 1960 and taught in the Lakeview School District in St. Clair Shores for 18 years. During this time she also served as a volunteer teacher for a summer education program for inner city children at the Sacred Heart Academy in Grosse Pointe Farms. She was active in the civil rights movement, worked as an advocate for seniors, provided shelter, support and kinship for troubled youths in her home and protested government policies that funded weapons instead of social justice.

Following the death of her husband in 1972 and her retirement from teaching in 1979, she joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1980. She completed her novitiate in Baltimore and made perpetual vows on Jan. 12, 1986. She was the first mother and grandmother to join the Detroit community. Her major work within Mercy was as an outreach specialist at St. Rose Senior Center in Detroit where she worked with Meals on Wheels, wrote grants, organized fundraising events and served as an advocate for senior health care. In 1994, she was recognized by Gov. John Engler as Michigan Senior Citizen of the Year.

Sister Betty is survived by her sons, James (Christine) O’Donnell III of Grosse Pointe Park, Joseph (Jennifer) O’Donnell of Falmouth, Maine, Paul (Carol) O’Donnell of Flint; daughters, Mary (Kevin) Daudlin of Grosse Pointe Park and Michele (James) Duprey of Novi; seven grandchildren and the members of her Mercy community.

She was predeceased by her husband, James O’Donnell.

A funeral Mass was celebrated June 10 at St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park. Interment is at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Mercy Ministry Fund, 29000 11 Mile, Farmington Hills, MI 48336.
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