Remembering: Sr. Joan Klemballa, DW

Sr. Joan Klemballa, DW, Ph.D., RN, FNP-PC, 81

June 20, 1937 - February 9, 2019

Wisdom’s Radiance Never Sleeps. Ws. 7:10b

Modified from a tribute written by Sr. Emma Rohn, DW in recognition of Sr. Joan Klemballa’s 60th Jubilee, August 2017.

Sr. Joan Klemballa, from the beginning, was formed by Wisdom to set her light on a lampstand to give light to all in the house. (Mt. 5:15)Joan entered the Daughters of Wisdom from the parish of St. Gregory the Great in Bellerose shortly after her graduation from Our Lady of Wisdom Academy. Professed on August 2, 1957... she received her religious name, Sr. Joan of the Rosary. Her life ... has truly reflected the Rosary’s luminous mysteries. When Joan identified herself, she said emphatically, “I am a nurse!” With good reason. Well- prepared for the splendid ministry, Joan earned her R.N. at Maryview Hospital School of Nursing in Portsmouth, VA. in 1961. She began her nursing assignments in Brooklyn, NY at St. Charles Orthopedic Hospital followed by five years as supervisor in the operating room at Holy Family Hospital, Brooklyn, NY, all while earning her BS in Nursing from St. John’s University.... Then in 1968, she returned to St. Charles as Head Nurse and Assistant Director of Nursing Services.

Sr. Joan... earned a MA in Bio-Physical Pathology, from New York University, NY, a PhD in Human Development from the University of Maryland, and a Post-Graduate Certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Marshall University, Huntington, WV. Her mind was luminous; her sharing the light continuous! Joan’s supervisory and teaching gifts were offered in Malawi, East- Africa at Balaka Leprosy Hospital and at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Nguludi (1970-72). Returning home, she taught for six years at the Catholic Medical Center School of Nursing in Jamaica, Queens. For two of these years she spent any spare time she had volunteering in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY (1972-1978). There she answered the call from Sr. Rosemary McKenna, DW for help. Joan developed and coordinated the Homemaker-Home Health Aide Training Program, Brooklyn, NY. Hundreds of women received their certification and had an opportunity to work. Many of our Sisters became instructors in the programs she designed.

Professorships continued in Washington, DC at the University of the District of Colombia Nursing Program. Yet at her house on Quincey Street, Washington, DC, Joan could be seen pushing the lawn mower in the oppressive heat or rapidly fashioning a new skirt at the sewing machine.

February 2019In 1992, Wisdom called Joan to the hills of West Virginia where she served until 2013. There she became a Professor at Mountain State University in Beckley, WV lecturing on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She offered two days weekly as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Pineville Children’s Clinic in Pineville, West Va., did hospice care in Beckley, and then again served at the Pineville Clinic, which was re-named the Tug River/Catterson Health Center. Bishop Bransfield, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston wrote of the people’s gratitude for the wonderful work and sacrifice of both Sr. Joan and Sr. Eileen Catterson, DW there. Since 2013, Sr. Joan was an adjunct in the Nursing program at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY continuing to teach and supervise the student nurses often traveling to Manhattan to their assigned clinical sites. In her free time, she volunteered twice weekly at RotaCare, Uniondale, NY, a clinic for undocumented immigrants who have no other access to health care. She served there for five years. In a newsletter published by UNANIMA, an NGO at the United Nations in which women Religious participate, it was written that “Sr. Joan has saved lives and renewed hope and purpose for life countless times among the poorest of her patients.” For the US Province, Sr. Joan was an invaluable resource for our elderly and sick sisters.

Donations may be made in Sr. Joan’s memory HERE.

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