ADRIAN - Sister Miriam Stimson, 88, a professor of chemistry at Siena Heights University and a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, died Saturday after suffering a stroke Thursday evening.
Friends described Sister Miriam as a life-long learner with an intense curiosity about the world. She always challenged the people she was around, said former student and colleague Sister Sharon Weber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Siena Heights, where Sister Miriam had been a teacher and an administrator.
“It kept you on your toes because she was always talking about ideas and moving forward with those ideas,” Sister Sharon said. “You didn't ever relax. You were always thinking. Even after she definitely retired from Siena, I would still find articles on my chair that related to my duties.”
Sister Miriam studied chemistry at St. Joseph College in Adrian, later Siena Heights University, and received a master's and a doctorate in chemistry from Institutum Divi Thomae in Cincinnati. Her early success in chemistry, working on early research examining cells, led to an invitation to lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was the second woman to lecture there; the first was Marie Curie. She later received international recognition for her early work with the spectroscope, a tool used for analyzing chemicals, and wrote manuals for using the instrument.
Sister Miriam was passionate about science as a means of discovering truth, Sister Sharon said.
“The spirit of the Dominican search for truth was a very high value of hers, that in coming to know truth we know more about God,” she said.
Science was not Sister Miriam's only love.
“She's a brilliant scientist, but she also was very much a people person,” said Sister Mary Beaubien, a former student and a friend. She took care of her aging mother and aunt in their later lives, and connected with many friends and students.
She was interested in each student as a person, not simply as a mind to be taught, Sister Sharon said. But she had another special skill that helped her students.
She was humble about her work, and students didn't learn about her success until reading about it in a book, Sister Sharon said.
She had broad interests, and a deep curiosity, which compelled her to travel to the Soviet Union and befriend foreign scholars studying at Siena Heights.
She read everything she could get her hands on, friends said. Her passions included women's rights and health in particular.
“Every now and then, she'd tell me which amino acids I was not eating with certain proteins,” Sister Sharon said.
She is survived by a sister, Catharine Dymond.
Services will be tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in the Maria Chapel at the university. Anderson Funeral Home is handling arrangements. The family requests tributes to the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
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