For two people who meet in the “big city” and fall in love to have both come from the same small town rather defies the odds. But that’s exactly what happened for Henry Kerich and Irene Dugas.
Henry and Irene were both born in Little Falls, Minnesota, population 5,774 at the time of the 1900 Census, when each would have been four years old. As adults, they met in Minneapolis, some one hundred miles to the southeast. Henry was a laundry worker at the Nicolett Hotel and Irene worked as a secretary.
Henry was the third oldest of twelve children born into a German immigrant family, and had to leave school after the fourth grade to help with family finances. Irene came from a French immigrant family that came first to Winnipeg, Canada, and then to Minnesota to work in the lumber camps. “This was Paul Bunyan country, and how I loved the stories my mother used to tell,” their youngest child and only daughter, the future Sister Irene Marie, wrote in her first St. Catherine letter.
The couple had been married for three years when Mary Louise was born on September 30, 1924. Two brothers followed over time: Douglas and then William. Bill was born when Mary Louise was ten, “old enough to help with the preparations,” she wrote, “and once I recovered from my major disappointment that he was not the sister I wanted so badly, I thoroughly enjoyed being his one and only baby-sitter. I am ashamed to admit all the fights I had with Doug as we were growing up, but never was there such a problem with Bill.”
Read more about Sister Irene Marie (pdf)
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