In all the history of St. Nicholas of Tolentine School in Chicago, there have likely not been many instances of a three-and-a-half-year-old attending kindergarten. But when little Patricia Spangler proved herself so determined to follow her older siblings to school that her brother Jim was late to class because he was the one taking her back home, putting her into kindergarten was the solution devised by the principal, Sister Leone Therese Morrin. That way, Sister Leone Therese reasoned, Jim would have no excuse for missing class every time his baby sister decided to tag along. This did not mean, however, that Pat was officially in school a year early; the next year, she was enrolled in kindergarten along with the other children her age.
Sister Pat was born on December 31, 1934, to Robert and Anna (Rezac) Spangler. She was the sixth child and the third girl born into the family – following Marianne, Bob, Bill, Jim, and Betty Jo – and the first of the Spangler children to be born in Chicago; the family had previously lived in Kansas and Oklahoma. The youngest, Thomas, whom the family called “Timmy” because his godfather nicknamed him “Tiny Tim,” was born just before Sister Pat’s third birthday.
Thomas’ fourth birthday, December 7, 1941, coincided with the day Pearl Harbor was attacked and the U.S. was plunged into World War II. Bob was already in the Navy as part of the V-12 Program, through which men took college classes in order to become officers, and was at the University of Notre Dame. Marianne, who had been working as a secretary and stenographer in downtown Chicago, quit her job and joined the WAVES, where she became a secretary for an admiral at the Great Lakes Naval Base. Bill left school and joined the Navy as well, eventually serving in the South Pacific aboard the (second) aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.
Read more about Sister Patricia (pdf)
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