Sister Mary Eleanor Dunning, OSF


CLINTON – Sister Mary Eleanor Dunning, OSF, died May 30 at Mercy Medical Center.

She was born Feb. 25, 1922, in Williamstown, Mo., and baptized Frances Louise. She attended schools in Missouri.

She entered the congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis at Mount St. Clare Convent, Clinton, on Sept. 6, 1941, and received the name Mary Eleanor at her reception on June 20, 1942.  She made her first profession on Aug. 12, 1944, and her final profession on Aug. 12, 1947. 

Sr. Dunning entered nurses’ training at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Burlington, and received her R.N. in 1949. She graduated from Mount St. Clare College in 1952 and received a B.A. in elementary education at Viterbo College, LaCrosse, Wis. in 1960. She held an Iowa Elementary Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate and an Iowa Nursing Certificate.


Sr. Dunning’s 51 years of active ministry included both teaching and nursing.  Most recently from 1987 until her retirement, she was in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahama Islands, as teacher and librarian at Mary, Star of the Sea School. Together with two other Clinton Franciscans, she had opened the school in 1960 and served as principal until 1963.

She also had taught at St. Patrick’s in Clinton and St. Gerald’s in Oak Lawn, Ill., as well as serving at Mount St. Clare College as house mother and nurse at Durham Hall. She served as a nurse at Mercy Hospital, Burlington; at Grinnell General Hospital where she opened a coronary care unit in 1970; at Mount Alverno for the Aged and at Mercy Hospital, both in Clinton.

Sr. Dunning retired at The Canticle in 1999.  While at The Canticle, she also volunteered as a religious education teacher for Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton and visited the sick at the hospital and at The Alverno.

Funeral was June 3 at The Canticle. Burial is in St. Irenaeus Cemetery, Clinton.

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