Sr. Georgia Hammell

Sister Georgia Hammell, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 97, died Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Villa St. Joseph, La Crosse, WI. She was in the seventy-third year of her religious profession.
Friends may call after 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, December 16 at St. Rose Convent, La Crosse, WI. A prayer service will be held that evening at 6:30 p.m. in Mary of the Angels Chapel. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday, December 17 in Mary of the Angels Chapel, La Crosse, WI. Burial will follow in the family plot at St. Joseph Cemetery in New Albin.
Born September 28, 1918 on a farm near New Albin, Sister Georgia was the second daughter of George and Elizabeth (Wall) Hammell. At baptism she received the name Catherine Elizabeth. She attended the school that her father, uncle and neighbors had built.  When Catherine fell behind in reading, her father tutored her every night until she caught up.
Catherine enjoyed her outside chores more than the housekeeping chores. For the first year of high school, she and her sister took the team and buggy during the warm months and roomed at her grandmother’s house during the winter. Catherine remained home the next two years helping with the farm work.
In 1934, she and her sister enrolled in Lansing Public School in order to earn their Normal Teaching Certificate.  This time they boarded with their great aunt, who would say once in a while, “Maybe Catherine will be a sister.”  Catherine really wasn’t thinking about a vocation.
Instead of a class ring, her father bought Catherine a guitar and she took lessons from one of the Sisters, who also asked Catherine about becoming a sister. One Saturday, Catherine accompanied one of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) to La Crosse, WI. Her visit to the Adoration Chapel convinced Catherine that she indeed did have a calling to religious life. Heeding the sense of obligation to repay her parents for the education she had received, Catherine taught two years before entering St. Rose Convent August 15, 1939.
Catherine was received into the novitiate August 12, 1940 and received the name Sister Georgia. She made first profession of vows August 12, 1942, and final profession August 9, 1948.
Entering the field of education, Sister Georgia taught in elementary schools for six years before earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Viterbo College (University) and a master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University, Washington, DC. She ministered as a nursing instructor at St. Francis School of Nursing (Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare) and Viterbo College (University) in La Crosse, WI for 34 years, and at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll for six years.
Sister Georgia served her FSPA community as Formation Director for the Healthcare Province from 1966-1970. From 1989-2000, she ministered in the Marshall Islands as a nursing instructor at the College of Micronesia in Majuro. Several summers, Sister Georgia spent doing volunteer nursing at hospitals, a nursing home in Hillsboro, WI and even Villa St. Joseph. During her years in healthcare, she also served on different healthcare boards and provincial boards. She retired to St. Rose Convent in 2000 and moved to Villa St. Joseph in 2010.
Community members, family, and friends will remember Sister Georgia as a quiet, gentle person. Both at St. Rose Convent and Villa St. Joseph, if not in the chapel, one could find Sister Georgia at a table putting together a puzzle. She often said that kept her mind sharp.
Teaching nursing students was the highlight of her ministry. To this day she is remembered as an excellent, caring nursing instructor, having trained most of the nurses and nurse administrators in the La Crosse, WI area. Over the years as nursing instructor, Sister Georgia received numerous awards for her service, including the Father J. Thomas Finucan Award from Viterbo College (University) and the YWCA Tribute to Outstanding Women Award.
Sister Georgia is survived by her Franciscan community; her two brothers, Lawrence Hammell of Aurora, CO and James Hammell of Eitzen, MN; her three sisters, Alberta Troendle of Lansing, Esther Walleser of Waukon and Pauline Blaskowski of Winona, MN. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers, George and Earl; and her sister, Anna.
Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Home, La Crosse, WI and Thornburg-Grau Funeral Home, Lansing are assisting with arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 912 Market Street, La Crosse, WI 54601-4782.