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Published: Saturday, 8/4/2012

Sister Charlotte Kessler, 1910-2012: Nun taught 48 years in NW Ohio parishes

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TIFFIN -- Sister Charlotte Kessler, who professed her final vows with the Sisters of St. Francis nearly 80 years ago and spent much of her life teaching in northwest Ohio schools, died Thursday in St. Francis Home. She was 101.

Sister Charlotte moved into the home about five years ago when her health began to decline, said Sister Janet Hay, who said she didn't know the cause of death. Sister Charlotte's sister, Victoria Theis, had lived in the St. Francis Home until her death in June, 2011, at age 104.

Sister Charlotte "loved life," said Sister Janet, who works in pastoral care for the senior sisters at the home. "She was full of fun. She had wonderful memories of her younger years."

During her career, Sister Charlotte had taught mostly in the first and second grades at public and parochial schools and parishes in Ohio, including Fort Jennings, New Washington, Payne, Miller City, North Auburn, Willard, Millersville, New Cleveland, Peru, Bismarck, Bryan, and Carey.

Sister Janet said 36 years of Sister Charlotte's 48 years in teaching were spent in school buildings with only two rooms. She was a principal at North Auburn, Millersville, and Peru. "She loved kids and she loved teaching," Sister Janet said.

Sister Charlotte later wrote in her memoirs that "these memories have left me with many happy memories and today many of my students of past years still come to see me, take me out for a meal, or just joy ride."

One of seven children, she was born Sept. 9, 1910, to Jacob and Theresa Kessler, who lived near convent property on Tiffin's south end. When she was young, the family moved to Muncie, Ind., where her father farmed. She attended school in Muncie until the second grade, when her family returned to Ohio and her father took up farming near Carey, in Wyandot County.

Sister Janet said a nun who taught Charlotte in Muncie inspired her to pursue her religious vocation and eventually become a teacher.

"She said she had a lovely sister as a teacher. She really liked the sister and kept praying she could teach like sister and that she would one day become a sister," she said.

Sister Charlotte, whose given name was Catherine Kessler, came to the convent in 1926 when she enrolled into the order's high school. She entered as a postulate with the Order of Sisters of St. Francis in April 19, 1927, made her first vows in 1929, and professed her final vows Aug. 30, 1932.

Her first years in education were spent teaching children in the orphanage at the motherhouse in Tiffin.

Sister Charlotte left the classroom in 1980 and began a new phase that showed her creativity. As an artist, Sister Charlotte worked for 10 years in ceramics to create gifts that were sold in the Pilgrim House Basilica and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey.

Sister Janet said Sister Charlotte focused on religious statues and also worked with fabrics and yarns, making embroidered and crocheted pieces.

There are no immediate survivors.

Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday in the chapel at St. Francis Home and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m in the St. Francis Convent Chapel. A Christian wake service will be held in the convent chapel at 4 p.m.

The funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Francis Convent Chapel. Visitation also will be held one hour before the funeral at the Convent Chapel.

Tributes are suggested to St. Francis Convent or to the St. Francis Home.

Traunero Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.



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