Clinton woman spots self in orphanage photo

2011-03-08T02:00:00Z Clinton woman spots self in orphanage photoAlma Gaul The Quad-City Times
March 08, 2011 2:00 am  • 

The photo of the St. Vincent Orphanage in Davenport that appeared in the Feb. 22 Salute section brought back memories for Ruby Hopper of Clinton, Iowa.

That photo accompanied a story about an exhibit of religious sisters in America, and it showed St. Vincent's, several members of the Congregation the Humility of Mary in old-fashioned habits, some chickens and six children standing in a row.

Hopper says she is the girl on the far left in the row and that the girl next to her is her sister, Peggy, who lives in Des Moines.

Hopper, her sister and their four brothers were placed in the Humility-run orphanage in the mid-1950s after their father died and their mother could not care for them, she said. Hopper, whose maiden name is Phillips, was at the home for eight years, and her memories are not entirely pleasant, she said.

Eventually, her brothers and her sister were all adopted or placed elsewhere; Hopper was the last to leave at the age of 16.

In 1974, the family had a reunion organized by a brother who lives in Montana and tracked everyone down, she said. The reunion included a fifth baby brother who was adopted but was not at St. Vincent's.

Hopper's mother died in 1996.

Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm

The story about the exhibit of religious sisters in America also reported on four orders of sisters who are based in the Quad-City region.

Although the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm have their mother house in Germantown, N.Y., Sister Lois of Davenport wants people to know that there are five members of her order living in, and helping to administer, the Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm, 1101 W. 9th St., Davenport.

The order was founded in 1929 in New York by a sister of a different order who wanted to begin a new congregation specifically to minister to the aged and infirm. There now are 191 sisters around the world, ministering to the elderly in long-term health-care and independent and assisted-living facilities in the United States as well as one in Ireland, said Sister Lois, assistant administrator of the Kahl Home.

The Kahl Home had its start in the mid-1950s when V.O. Figge and his wife, Elizabeth Kahl Figge, donated their stately mansion to the Diocese of Davenport to be used for a charitable purpose. (V.O. Figge was a Davenport business leader who forged the former Davenport Bank & Trust Co. (now a Wells Fargo) into Iowa's largest and most profitable bank. His wife was a daughter of Henry C. "Hummer" Kahl, a noted building contractor and the developer of both the Kahl Building and Capitol Theatre in downtown Davenport.)

In 1954, the bishop of the Davenport Diocese contacted the Carmelites and asked whether they would open a nursing home here, Sister Lois said.

Originally, the home was for women only, but money was raised and an addition was built in 1963 that made it possible to care for men as well. Another addition was built in 1987, bringing total space to 135 beds, Sister Lois said.

The original house is used as a residence by the sisters, and there is space for offices and guests.

The sisters wear a modified habit with a veil.

 

Copyright 2016 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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