Sister Mary Kathleen Krebsbach
Sister Mary Kathleen Krebsbach
August 29, 1910 – April 16, 2011
`Dreams Then Reality` is the title of a poem written by Sister Kathleen Krebsbach at the time of the sale of Ottumwa Heights and Motherhouse to Indian Hills Community College, and the CHM Congregation’s move from Ottumwa, Iowa, to Davenport, Iowa. It could well be the title of a piece written by her grandfather Stephen or her grandmother Gertrude as they sailed from Germany to America and then traveled eventually to southeastern Nebraska where they settled near Lawrence. They had to work just as hard on the Nebraska prairie as they had worked in the German coal mines. The Krebsbachs all worked hard to provide for their families on land that was not always easy to farm. Genevieve Elizabeth Krebsbach was born on August 29, 1910, to Joseph and Mary Grabenschroer Krebsbach in Lawrence, Nebraska. Mary Grabenschroer was a sister to Sister Anastasia Grabenschroer, CHM. Joseph and Mary had ten children: brothers Wilfred Victor, Ralph, George as well as sisters Josephine Grueb, Stephane Bolte, Irene Himmelburg, and Helena Oye are deceased. Her sister Mary Herbek, nieces, nephews, and cousins survive. Genevieve and her siblings grew up on a farm near Lawrence, Nebraska.
Sister often spoke of visiting her aunt Sister Anastasia at St. Ambrose College where she was missioned. That relationship must have blossomed because on New Year’s Eve, 1931, Genevieve entered the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Ottumwa, Iowa, received the habit and her name in religion, Sister Mary Kathleen, in 1932 and professed first vows in 1934.
Sister Mary Kathleen’s ministry embraced a variety of areas beginning with food preparation at Ottumwa Heights then moving to Davenport with three other sisters to provide cooking and household services for Bishop Henry Rohlman. She returned to Ottumwa Heights for several years before caring for newborns and infants at The Christ Child Home in Des Moines, Iowa, for fifteen years. After serving briefly at Linehan Convent, Marshalltown, Iowa, and St. Anne convent in Ottumwa, Sister went back to Ottumwa Heights where she remained until in 1982 the CHM community moved to Humility of Mary Center in Davenport. In 2004 she moved to Bishop Drumm Retirement Home in Johnston, Iowa, where she remained until her death.
On several occasions while Sister Kathleen was residing here at Humility of Mary Center I heard her remark that she intended to live to be 100 years old. In doing research for this tribute, I think I know why she was so confident about that fact. Her father died at age ninety-five and her mother at 100 plus one month. She was convinced that having a small wheelchair would help her achieve that goal and achieve it she did on August 29, 2010. When asked how it felt to be 100 years old she replied, `It feels more like 110.`
Sister Kathleen the `weatherperson` often put our local forecasters to shame with her predictions from The Farmer’s Almanac (which seems to have been her favorite book), her many years of observation and a few `old wives tales;` if not always correct, made for interesting table conversation.
At times when the sisters would have a craft sale to raise a few dollars for a special project, Sister Kathleen always contributed a handmade quilt as well as other craft items. She made, sold, and gave away several quilts while living here at the Center. I am certain that she enjoyed countless cups of coffee while quilting. She really liked her cup of `Joe.`
When the CHMs moved from Ottumwa to Davenport, Sister discovered a poetry writing talent. She wrote several poems about leaving the Heights, the experience of moving first to Marycrest and then to the brand new Humility of Mary Center. It proved to be a good way to let go of the past and to embrace the new reality. She chose one of the efficiency apartments for her residence at the new Center. I recall how excited she was to pick out her colored bedspread and other items for her apartment. At times the smell of steak cooking would waft down the upstairs hall as she liked to cook a steak once in a while in her kitchenette. If there is a coffee urn in heaven, Sister will be the first in line, for she was generally the first to visit the coffeepot in the morning and the last at night with numerous visits in between. To paraphrase a couple of lines from her poem, `Dreams Then Reality,` now she is seeing her dreams of a bright future in eternity colored as joys of a beautiful long hoped for picture.
Sister Micheline Curtis, CHM
April 17, 2011