Sept. 28, 1918–Dec. 12, 2015
This site is dedicated to remembering Sr. Georgia Hammell.
Sister Georgia Hammell, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 97, died Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at Villa St. Joseph, La Crosse. She was in the seventy-third year of her religious profession.
Born on Sept.28, 1918, on a farm near New Albin, Iowa, Sister Georgia was the second daughter of George and Elizabeth (Wall) Hammell. At baptism she received the name Catherine Elizabeth. She attended the school that her father, uncle, and neighbors had built. When Catherine fell behind in reading, her father tutored her every night until she caught up. Catherine enjoyed her outside chores more than the housekeeping chores. For the first year of high school, she and her sister took the team and buggy during the warm months and roomed at her grandmother’s house during the winter. Catherine remained home the next two years helping with the farm work. In 1934, she and her sister enrolled in Lansing Public School in order to earn their Normal Teaching Certificates. This time they boarded with their great aunt who would say once in a while, “Maybe Catherine will be a sister.” Catherine really wasn’t thinking about a vocation. Instead of a class ring, her father bought Catherine a guitar and she took lessons from one of the Sisters who also asked Catherine about becoming a sister. One Saturday, Catherine accompanied one of the FSPA to La Crosse. Her visit to the Adoration Chapel convinced Catherine that she indeed did have a calling to religious life. Heeding the sense of obligation to repay her parents for the education she had received, Catherine taught two years before entering St. Rose Convent on August 15, 1939.
Catherine was received into the novitiate on Aug. 12, 1940, and received the name Sister Georgia. She made first profession of vows on Aug. 12, 1942, and final profession on Aug. 9, 1948.
Entering the field of education, Sister Georgia taught in elementary schools for six years before earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Viterbo College (University) and a master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University, Washington, DC. She ministered as a nursing instructor at St. Francis School of Nursing (Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare) and Viterbo College (University) La Crosse for 34 years, and at St. Anthony Hospital, Carroll, Iowa for six years. Sister Georgia served her FSPA community as Formation Director for the Healthcare Province from 1966-1970. From 1989-2000, she ministered in the Marshall Islands as a nursing instructor at the College of Micronesia in Majuro. Several summers, Sister Georgia spent doing volunteer nursing at hospitals, a nursing home in Hillsboro, Wis. and even Villa St. Joseph. During her years in health care, she also served on different health care boards and provincial boards. She retired to St. Rose Convent in 2000 and moved to Villa St. Joseph in 2010.
Community members, family, and friends will remember Sister Georgia as a quiet, gentle person. Both at St. Rose Convent and Villa St. Joseph, if not in the chapel, one could find Sister Georgia at a table putting together a puzzle. She often said that kept her mind sharp. Teaching nursing students was the highlight of her ministry. To this day she is remembered as an excellent, caring nursing instructor, having trained most of the nurses and nurse administrators in the La Crosse area. Over the years as nursing instructor, Sister Georgia received numerous awards for her service, including the Father J. Thomas Finucan Award from Viterbo College (University) and the YWCA Tribute to Outstanding Women Award.
Sister Georgia is survived by her Franciscan community, her two brothers Lawrence Hammell, Aurora, Colo. and James Hammell, Eitzen, Minn.; her three sisters Alberta Troendle, Lansing, Iowa, Esther Walleser, Waukon, Iowa, and Pauline Blaskowski, Winona, Minn. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers George and Earl and her sister Anna.
Friends may call after 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, Dec.16 at St. Rose Convent, La Crosse. A prayer service will be held that evening at 6:30 p.m. in Mary of the Angels Chapel. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec.17 in the Chapel. Burial will follow in the family plot at St. Joseph Cemetery in New Albin, Iowa.
Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Home, La Crosse, and Thornburg-Grau Funeral Home, Lansing, Iowa, are assisting with arrangements.
Memorials may be sent to Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 912 Market Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601-4782.