In Memoriam

Sister Edith Kathleen Zemke, OP


I am convinced that when the Lord chooses or asks one to follow, both grace and circumstances compel one to respond to that call. Coming to Adrian would never have become a reality in my life if not for the Caller. “I have chosen you” was a beautiful invitation.

Sister Edith Kathleen Zemke wrote this paragraph in her annals one year as she reflected upon the circumstances of her life which had led her to become an Adrian Dominican Sister. Listening to that call, according to her life story, had given her a happiness she would never have imagined could be hers.

Catherine Theresa Zemke was born on October 15, 1926, in Alpena, Michigan, to Bonnie, as he was known (his full name is unclear from historical records; it may have been either Boneslaus or Bronislaus) and Edith (Foley) Zemke. Edith’s family came to the area from Newfoundland, Canada, while Bonnie and his family immigrated to the U.S. from a small village on the German-Polish border when he was four or five years old. As an adult, he worked as a conductor for the Detroit and Mackinaw Railroad.

Bonnie and Edith had three children: Mary Margaret, John (known as Jackie) ten years later, and Catherine three years after that.

Read more about Sister Edith Kathleen (pdf)

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


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Avatar  Patrick F Irwin 2 years agoReply

Sr. Edith was an amazing educator and a fabulous example of the spirit and the passion of the Adrian Dominican sisters. Make no doubt-about-it, Sr. Edith was tough...there are legions of us, former students under her tutelage, who had stern talks and the occasional paddling from her in grade school at Detroit St. Gabriel's (always well deserved I might add!) . That being said - I've never ran into anyone who says they didn't deserve those stern talks and occasional paddling - or that they didn't need it! Those same legions will also glowing tell you about caring and compassionate she was - how she helped lift so many students up to academic and personal success.

Sr. Edith was kind and caring - she loved her students and the communities she served. When I think about all the time she spent at Detroit St. Gabriel grade school providing a great education, super affordable rates to a community that included many who could not always afford tuition, maintaining a school building on a shoe-string budget and all the many other things she did for others - I am in awe. There are so many who owe so much to Sr. Edith and all of the other amazing Adrian Dominican sisters who not only taught in Southwest Detroit - but throughout the world.

Sr. Edith's toughness combined with her kindness and a heart the size of the entire City of Detroit resonates loudly in all of us who say with pride that we were once her students. There aren't many students who can't visualize the memory of Sr. Edith working in the tent at one of the booths at the annual school fall fair, seeing her at the end of school watching children leave the schoolproperty, mindfully watching us to ensure we at our vegetables at lunch (Oh Lord - the ingenious ways we managed to avoid having to do that - she did inspire unbelievable creativity and cleverness amongst us at an early age!) and the time (circa) 1976 or so that on the last day of school at St. Gabes she wore a Hawaiian Aloha shirt, complete with Lei's around her neck as she shared with everyone at the school she was gong to Hawaii for a well deserved vacation........With Sr. Edith - every day was a surprise and a treat - she was so many times just indescribable and always loveable!

Rest in peace Sr. Edith and with the knowledge that your many efforts are not without the gratitude of all and the honor that a true servant of God deserves.

On behalf of all your former students at St. Gabriel's and the St. Gabriel parish itself...thank you and God speed.

Avatar  Karen (Graff) Lizza 2 years agoReply

Sr. Edith was the second principal I worked with as a young teacher. She ran St. David Elementary School with love, compassion, and the best sense of humor. My four years of teaching at that school are filled with great memories, due to the wonderful staff, led by dear Edith. I know Edith is in heaven, waiting for the rest of us to join her at “the library”.
Love ya, Edith! ❤️

Avatar  Donna Courie 2 years agoReply

I had the privilege of working with Sr. Edith Kathleen at St. Matthew School. She was a wonderful dedicated Assistant Principal, who knew and loved the children. Her sense of humor and great character added joy to the wonderful years I spent as a parent and teacher there. She will always be remembered by the many who knew her.
Donna Courie

Avatar  Chris Soliz 2 years agoReply

Sister Katie was a beautiful lady with a heart of gold. It was a blessing to have met and take care of Sr. Katie. May you rest in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ. You well be missed.


Chris Soliz

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