Birth: September 13, 1940
Profession: February 4, 1972
Death: November 16, 2021

Religious of the Sacred Heart, Josephine (JoEllen) Sumpter, died November 16, 2021, in Atherton, California. She was eighty-one years old and a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for fifty-eight years. JoEllen was born on September 13, 1940, in Omaha, Nebraska, the only child of Charles Edward Sumpter and Helen Graffius Sumpter. Prior to entering the Society of the Sacred Heart, JoEllen worked as a lab technician and was head of the pathology department at St. Joseph Hospital in Omaha. She also was the owner, operator, and teacher for five years at JC Dance Studio. JoEllen graduated from Duchesne College in 1962 where she earned a B.A. in Biology. Following graduation from Duchesne, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart on September 8, 1963, at Kenwood for the first part of her novitiate, with the second part at the international novitiate in Frascati, Italy, where she made her first vows in 1966. 

After first vows, Sister Sumpter taught at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska. From 1968-1971, she taught biology at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, and in 1971 became the assistant principal there. During this time, she earned an M.A. in Biology from Creighton University, graduating in 1971. After her time at Woodlands, she left for probation in Rome.  She returned to Omaha after probation in 1972 and decided to make her final profession on February 4, 1972, at Woodlands Academy where she could share the experience with the province, her parents, and friends on the North Shore.

Sister Sumpter spent the next nineteen years at Woodlands, serving in a number of capacities, as the assistant to the curriculum director, boarding staff and teacher, chair of the fine arts department, and director of the boarding school. She also earned an M.A. in Dance Education at Northwestern University in 1975. After a one-year sabbatical in 1992, Sister Sumpter was assigned to Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha and served as director of services and fine arts for three years, registrar for ten years, and school secretary and registrar until 2007. From 2007 to 2016, she was assistant dean of students and then assistant to the administrative team at Duchesne.

Sister Sumpter also served the province as the Area Director in Omaha for a number of years.  Some of the gifts and qualities her Sisters attributed to her were her ability to listen well without judgment, organizational skills, good insights, creativity, and her spirit of fun. 

Sister Sumpter served most of her life in Omaha and loved the Society’s ministry there. In 2016, she retired to Oakwood, the retirement community for the Religious of the Sacred Heart.

On November 16, 2021, Sister Sumpter, peacefully went to God. Her friend, Lucy Hayes, was by her side, along with Sisters Sally Rude and Sis Flynn.

A funeral mass for Sister Sumpter will be held on Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 10:00 am in the Oakwood Chapel, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton, California 94027.





Sara Loosen Otto's picture

Thu, 2021-12-09 18:42
Sr. Sumpter was the head of the Boarding Department at Woodlands Academy when I started at WA. I remember her fondly. I was a 7 day boarder and far from home. Her midwestern sensibilities were comforting to me and my sister. I really enjoyed reading her obituary and sharing in all her wonderful achievements and experiences. Thank you for sharing her life and love of the Sacred Heart with us. Her story brought back a flood of memories and I am reminded of what a wonderful community the SH is.
Katie Huff Oberlin's picture

Fri, 2021-12-10 09:43
Sr. Sumpter was my biology teacher at Woodlands. In fact, I still have a project/paper that I wrote for her as an assignment! She was a wonderful teacher...calm, direct, knowledgeable, smart...and sparked a keen interest in me as I went on to major in biology, returning to teach at Woodlands after graduation from college. Throughout my life I have deepened my love of the natural world, blending science and spirituality, culminating in my current profession as a Healing Touch/energy healing practitioner. I am sorry to hear of her passing but am filled with gratitude. Sr. Sumpter made a big difference in my life. Sending prayers and many blessings to Sr. Sumpter's family, friends, and community. ❤️
Mary J. "Cissie" Bramer's picture
I did not know Sister Sumpter, but from her Obituary shows what an outstanding person and very religious and obviously very helpful to many people. Thanks You for sending me the above message. I am sure she will be very much missed. May God continue to Bless you all in His service. Blessings, Mary J. "Cissie" Bramer PS Often before my classes I would go and sit in the chapel and pray. I loved that quiet time! I am not a Catholic, but my dear pen pal in England was and she was very encouraging to me. So, when I graduated, I made a copy of my Diploma and send it to her and told her how much it meant to me to have her in my corner. She and her husband have both entered God's Kingdom. She passed away first and her husband came to visit us and I found a super Catholic Church here in the Palm Springs Desert and took him there. He did come again to visit us again and the he got cancer and passed away the following January, 2009. We have family on the East Coast and try to stop in Lake Forest where we lived about a block from Barat and just take in the beauty of the grounds that our beautiful College sat upon.
Carolyn Fox's picture

Mon, 2021-12-13 15:51
Condolences to Sr. Sumpter’s family and friends. I have fond memories of her during my time at Woodlands. May she Rest In Peace. Carolyn (Bucky) Fox ‘73

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