Omaha native served with loving care at Duchesne Academy

Religious Sister of the Sacred Heart Josephine (JoEllen) Sumpter served 25 of her 58 years of religious life at her alma mater, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, where she is remembered for her loving care of students there.

“Sister Sumpter will always be part of Duchesne,” said Meg Brudney, head of school. “She educated our girls with great love and we still feel her presence in this building.”

Sister JoEllen died Nov. 16 in Atherton, California, at the age of 81.

A funeral Mass will be held Dec. 18 at the Oakwood retirement community’s chapel in Atherton.

An Omaha, native, she attended Duchesne Academy beginning in seventh grade, and graduated from the former Duchesne College in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She also earned a master’s degree in biology from Omaha’s Creighton University and a master’s degree in dance education from Northwestern University in Chicago.

Sister JoEllen entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1963, took first vows in 1966, and professed final vows in 1972.

She taught at Duchesne Academy from 1966 to 1968, before leaving to teach biology at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart near Chicago. She became assistant principal there in 1971, and also served as assistant to the curriculum director, boarding school director and chair of the Fine Arts Department.

Sister JoEllen returned to Duchesne in 1993, where she served in numerous capacities, including director of services and fine arts, registrar, school secretary, assistant dean of students and assistant to the school’s administrative team.

She also served her order’s midwest province as area director for a number of years.

She retired in 2016 and moved to her order’s Oakwood retirement community in Atherton.

In a written tribute, her community remembered Sister JoEllen for her “ability to listen well without judgment, organizational skills, good insights, creativity, and her spirit of fun.”

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