Sr. Gertrude Fruchtl, a Franciscan Sister of Mary for more than 82 years, died Monday , May 16, at Anna House, The Sarah Community, in Bridgeton, Mo. She was 106.
Sr. Gertrude knew the value of lifelong learning. As director of Saint Louis University's Medical Technology program she earned the respect of colleagues by her revisions to the curriculum and start of a continuing education program. And she lived out that openness to learning throughout her long life of 106 years.
She was born Gertrude Frances Fruchtl October 27, 1904, in St. Elmo, Ill., the fourth child of six born to Martin L. and Mary G. (Lange) Fruchtl.
In 1925 she moved to St. Louis, looking for adventure, and took a position as switchboard operator of the new St. Mary's Hospital on Clayton Road.
She joined the Sisters of St. Mary, the congregation who operated the hospital, on April 6, 1929, receiving the religious name Sr. Martin Mary. She professed final vows September 30, 1934.
In 1987 the Sisters of St. Mary reunited with the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville, Mo., as the Franciscan Sisters of Mary.
She became a certified medical technologist (1938), then earned her B.S. (1943) and M.S. (1953) in medical technology from Saint Louis University. She served as laboratory supervisor at several Missouri hospitals, including at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.
From 1962 to 1972 she headed the department of Medical Technology at Saint Louis University's School of Nursing and Allied Health.
Known and respected for the outstanding work reflected in her many articles and papers, she was appointed delegate to the International Society of Medical Technologists, attending the 1968 conference in Helsinki.
Although she received many awards during her long life, she especially cherished the Saint Louis University Alumnae Award conferred on her by the School of Nursing and Allied Health in 1976. She always deeply loved her years at Saint Louis University.
After she retired from teaching, she continued to write scientific papers. She served as a community director at the convent and as a co-director for the congregation's prayer program; she also volunteered in the liturgy office and at SSM St. Mary's Health Center.
Sr. Gertrude loved to play the accordion, paint, crochet afghans, read Agatha Christie novels and travel. After she retired, she learned to play the organ. A great storyteller, she was also a perceptive and caring listener.
Sr. Gertrude was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers and four sisters. She is survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
A Mass of Farewell will be celebrated for Sr. Gertrude at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in the Anna House Chapel, 12349 DePaul Drive, Bridgeton, Mo.
Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. just before the mass. Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis at 9 a.m. Friday, May 20.