Saturday, April 17, 2004

Sister Antonia Marie Vilt, wartime nurse

Served decades at St. Rita School

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DELHI TOWNSHIP - Before Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Antonia Marie Vilt became a nun in 1954, she was an Army nurse who served in both World War II and the Korean War.

She looked forward to her golden jubilee this year, but Sister Antonia Marie died Wednesday at Good Samaritan Hospital. She was 85.

During the 1950s, she was head nurse at Good Samaritan in Cincinnati and in Dayton. After serving as a nursing supervisor at hospitals in Colorado and New Mexico from 1958 until 1972, she returned to Cincinnati and became the nurse for St. Rita School for the Deaf in Evendale. She held that position for 23 years.

"In spite of the long hours - like 24 hours a day - St. Rita School for the Deaf was my favorite mission," Sister Antonia Marie said in a 1998 interview. "It was all of us working together for the children and for the Lord and for each other."

Born Rose Ann Vilt in Coal City, Ill., in 1918, she was in the Army from 1943 until 1954, when she entered the congregation. Two years later she received a bachelor's degree in nursing from the College of Mount St. Joseph.

The Sisters of Charity at St. Rita bought a brick paver to honor Sister Antonia Marie for the Blue Ash Bicentennial Veterans Memorial in 2002. "It feels good to be recognized since many women in the past have not been," she said at the time. "I also feel proud that I have accomplished all this in order to be honored."

Sister Antonia Marie did much for the other sisters at the Motherhouse in her retirement, including serving as a receptionist, helping with the U.S. postal unit, driving other sisters to appointments and assisting at Eldermount adult day program.

"She was very attentive to the needs of the students and the staff and was very generous of her time," said Sister John Michael Geis.

Survivors include a sister, Josephine Begler of Coal City; and nieces and nephews.

Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m. Monday in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, 5900 Delhi Road in Delhi Township, followed by Mass of Christian burial. Burial will be Tuesday in the Sisters of Charity cemetery.

Memorials: Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Retirement Fund, 5900 Delhi Road, Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051.

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Sister Antonia Marie Vilt, wartime nurse