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Sisters of St. Mary honor life of one of their own

Longtime educator dies after decades of service


The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon will honor the life and service of Sister Mary Hugh Copenhaver, who died Saturday at the age of 100.

A vigil service will be held Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the SSMO Motherhouse. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday at 10 a.m. in the SSMO Motherhouse Chapel, 4440 S.W. 148th Ave.Sister Mary Hugh Copenhaver

Born on July 11, 1913, Alice Catherine Copenhaver was the oldest of four children born to James and Alice Copenhaver of Wilbur, Wash. 

Before she entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1935, she attended Great Falls Business College in Montana for a year and then worked in the Brady Post Office.  After entering the convent, she was known as Sister Mary Hugh. She attended Marylhurst University, earning a bachelor’s degree in education.

A skilled teacher and administrator, Sister Hugh served at St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic School) in Beaverton, St. Stephen in Portland, Sacred Heart in Gervais, Visitation in Verboort, St. Mary’s Home for Boys in Beaverton, St. Mary in Stayton and St. Cecilia in Beaverton. She was the founding principal at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Seattle and served for 16 years at St. Mary in Spokane.

When she finished teaching in 1981, she took a sabbatical year, then began serving in her home parish, St. Michael, in Conrad, Mont., as the religious education coordinator and visitor to the homebound. From 1986-2007, she visited the sick and elderly of the parish, took people shopping, did sewing for the parish church and continued to help out as her energy would allow. 

She retired in 2007 at the age of 94. Sister Hugh continued to stay in the family home in Conrad during the summer months to be near her sister, Margaret.

In July 2013, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon honored Sister Hugh as she celebrated her 100th birthday.



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