A gray frame house with a white picket fence, flowering bushes and other plants, a cement slab on which to play basketball or to roller skate, a hill that was perfect for wintertime sledding, even an apple tree that was just right for climbing … these idyllic symbols of family life were part and parcel of how Gertrude Assenmacher and her siblings grew up.
Gertrude, later to become Sister Mary Immaculata, was born on August 22, 1936, in the Highland Park (Michigan) Hospital to George and Mary (Schoeb) Assenmacher, residents of nearby Dearborn. She was the sixth child in the family, following four boys (George, Leo, Alphonse, and Frank) and a girl (Theresa). Two years after Gertrude’s birth another brother, Bob, joined the family. Gertrude’s memories of Al, tragically, had to come largely though photos and family stories; he joined the Marines to fight in World War II when she was just five years old, and was killed on Guadalcanal the next year.
She was especially close to her father, who grew up on a farm in the area and as an adult worked for the Ford family, first at the Henry Ford Estate (known as Fairlane) as a gardener and general handyman. Later, he worked at the Ford Dairy Farm and finally as a maintenance man at the Ford Motor Company warehouse. His mother died when he was very young, and he and his younger sister were cared for by an older sister. As a result, he never completed beyond a third-grade education although Sister Mary described him in an autobiographical paper as “a whiz at math, able to figure out the sums in his head before others had done them on paper.”
Read more about Sister Mary Immaculata (PDF)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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