Claire Marie McLevy, BVM (Clarene), 92, died Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.
She was born in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 4, 1924, to Clare and Claire (Walker) McLevy. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1942, from St. Aloysius Parish, Kansas City. She professed first vows on March 19, 1945, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1950.
Claire Marie was an elementary school teacher in Chicago; St. Louis, Mo., Kansas City, Mo.; and Montrose, Calif. She was also a staff worker at Wright Hall, a BVM residence in Chicago.
She is preceded in death by her parents and brother John McLevy. She is survived by a cousin and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 74 years.
Sister Claire Marie, BVM (Clarene)
Marian Hall, Dec. 23, 2016
Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Claire Marie McLevy.
Virginia McLevy was born on Aug. 4, 1924, the first of two children born to Clare and Claire (Walker) McLevy from Kansas City, Mo. Her brother John completed the family. Her father was a very quiet man who was a clerk at the McKesson Drug Company. Her mother also worked at McKesson until the two met and were married.
Virginia attended St. Aloysius school, as did Sister Ann Regina Dobel, BVM, who, being several years older, had actually pushed Virginia in her baby carriage. Virginia loved high school, especially participating in basketball, school plays, glee club, and playing trumpet in the school band. In an interview, she said, “Being a Sister was far from my thoughts. I expected to go to Hollywood.” After graduation, Virginia worked one year for Hallmark and an insurance company while discerning her vocation.
Virginia entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1942, and received the name Clarene upon her reception on March 19, 1943. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1945, and lived 74 years as a BVM.
Claire Marie taught kindergarten through fourth grade for 41 years. She was missioned at Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago; St Frances Xavier in St. Louis, and Holy Redeemer in Montrose, Calif. In addition, she ministered for 31 years in Kansas City, Mo., teaching at Christ the King, St. Vincent, St. Therese, St. Frances Xavier, and St. Catherine.
Her first mission at Our Lady of the Angels was her favorite. “There were many young Sisters there at the time,” she commented. “Sisters Eileen Duggan, Geraldine Moorman, [and] Aimee O’Neill. She was a scream. Sister Mary St. William Welsh was the wonderful superior. One day she said to me, ‘Clarabelle, you are going to DePaul for summer school.’ The name Clarabelle stuck for many years. While at OLA I had 68 pupils in the third grade even though I knew nothing about teaching third grade. A retired sister taught me phonics and a sister who was recuperating helped me. In time I felt comfortable teaching . . . I was a happy teacher.”
Unfortunately, she suffered the devastating loss of her mother during her first year at OLA. Her father also died at a rather young age. With both parents deceased, Claire Marie alone carried a great concern for her brother, who struggled with health issues his entire adult life and lived in a Kansas City care facility until his death in 1998. The loss of her immediate family left a deep loneliness in her heart.
After retiring from teaching, Claire Marie volunteered at the Willis Adult Care in Des Moines, Iowa, and was absolutely wonderful in her interactions with the clients. Later she moved to Wright Hall in Chicago, where she lived for 24 years. While there, she took advantage of art classes being offered by Sister Mary Eustella Fau. A couple of her paintings are here at Mount Carmel.
Claire Marie was a free spirit. Although very private regarding personal matters, her persona was delightful. Her sparkling blue eyes matched a lively personality that craved to be with people. She enjoyed parties and going out to eat. One of her favored events at Mount Carmel was the monthly social in the Caritas dining room. She loved conversation, laughter, dancing and singing and knew all the words to the hits of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Of course, there was no place better than Kansas City for this native. If her sports’ teams were playing, she was sure to be rooting them on. While enjoying her favorite activities, one was sure to hear her say with a dramatic flair, “Isn’t this wonderful!”
Claire Marie weathered her share of difficult times, but was a happy person overall. Although a bit of a procrastinator, if there was something she really wanted, she could make it happen. When seeking quieter moments, she delighted in viewing nature’s beauty via a ride around a lake or a trip to the botanical gardens. She lived a full, active life, even to her last day when she had planned to visit the Cathedral in Dubuque.
Claire Marie always spoke highly about the Mount Carmel staff. “The nurses and aides here have been very good to me,” she said. “I am grateful.” She loved her BVM sisters but was greatly saddened by the recent deaths on her floor. Today’s first reading from Isaiah reminds us that “the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.” We continue this celebration of life confident that Claire Marie is attending the best party of her life, “a feast of rich food and choice wines” in heaven. Enjoy, Claire Marie!
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