In Memoriam

Sister Imelda Marie Eckhoff, OP


Vero Beach, Florida, was the birthplace – and the site of a very happy childhood – for Viola Mary Eckhoff, who would go on to become Sister Imelda Marie.

Viola Mary was the fourth child, and the third girl, born to Joseph and Viola (Dothage) Eckhoff on October 24, 1931. Her older siblings were Marilyn, Evelyn, and Joe, with Carole the youngest in the family. 

Sister Imelda recalled in her 2019 “A Sister’s Story” video that Vero Beach had much open land in those days, and she and the other children spent much of their time hiking as well as fishing and swimming, They were good times, she recalled, even if her childhood did come during the Great Depression and the family did not have much.

At Christmas, she wrote in her autobiography, each child would get one present, and for the Christmas when she was perhaps three years old, all the girls got dolls and Joe got a ball. As the family would later tell the story, “I cried and said I didn’t want a dolly, I wanted a ball. Daddy went out on Christmas Day to find me a ball.”

Read more about Sister Imelda (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

From left: The Eckhoff family, Vero Beach, Florida, 1936; Viola, the future Sister Imelda Marie, as an eighth-grade graduate, Vero Beach, Florida

From left: Sister Imelda Marie poses with her parents, Joseph Eckhoff and Viola Eckhoff, at the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan. Back row, from left, Sisters Patricia McDonald and Jean Crane, and front row, from left, Sisters Imelda Marie Eckhoff and Margaret “Peg” O’Flynn, Vero Beach, Florida, 1972

From left: Sisters Imelda Marie Eckhoff and Elisa Doherty are evacuated from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1965. From left, Sisters Imelda Marie Eckhoff, Jean Crane, and Margaret Reardon

Right: Attending the May 13, 2017 Diocese of Palm Beach Jubilee celebration are, from left, Sisters Mary Therese Napolitan, 60 years; Donna Baker, 50 years; Imelda Marie Eckhoff, 70 years; and Frances Madigan, 65 years.

Enjoying their 2008 Easter dinner together are: standing, from left, Sister Dolores LaVoy, Associate Henrietta Oenbrink, and Sisters Helen Faiver, Anne Liam Lees, Anne Elizabeth Monahan, Eileen Sullivan, Audrey Hull, Lorraine Sinn, and Imelda Marie Eckhoff, and seated, from left, Sisters Joyce LaVoy, Anne Richard Baker, Jean Crane, Mary Therese Napolitan, Madeleine Sophie McLeod, and Mary Jean Clemenger.

Right: Members of the 2007 Diamond Jubilee, February group, are: back row, from left, Sisters Charlotte Hoefer, Marie Damian Schoenlein, Shirley Boettcher, and Patrice Eilers; middle row, from left, Sisters Anne Worcester, Elizabeth Condon, JoAnn Fleischaker, Eileen Meyers, Sarah Cavanaugh, and Mary Cecile Quirke; and front row, from left, Sisters Jacquelyn Murray, Catherine Podvin, Imelda Marie Eckhoff, Paul Emelia Brown, Noreen O’Connell, Elizabeth Williams, and Helen Dompierre.

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Avatar  Judy Ireland 7 months agoReply

Sister Imelda was a much beloved volunteer tutor at DePorres Place. Her students were so grateful to her for her patience and caring, and our DePorres staff thought she hung the moon. We miss her very much, and we're happy to have one of her drawings displayed at our Literacy Center, It is a constant reminder of her creativity and her enthusiasm for all of life.

Avatar  Carol Gross 7 months agoReply

Imelda was one of my favorite people. Her artwork graces our home in the Dominican Republic. Her generosity which was manifested in so many forms, cannot be forgotten. Her loving, interested and caring heart will speak to us through her artwork.

Avatar  B Casaleno 7 months agoReply

I am so sorry to hear of Sister Imelda's passing. She will be in my prayers.

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Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 

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