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Sister Mary Hugh Copenhaver

1913 - 2014

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

Her father homesteaded 17 miles east of Brady when she was two years old, and the following summer when the house was built, the family moved by train to Brady and then by horse drawn wagon to the homestead. She attended rural one-room schoolhouses through grade school and then went to high school in Brady, boarding her freshman year with a family in town. The following years, the family moved into town during the school year so they could all stay together as the kids went to school. She graduated from Brady High School in 1931.

Before she entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1935 (following in the footsteps of two of her aunts), she attended Great Falls Business College for a year and then worked in the Brady Post Office.After entering the convent she was known as Sister Mary Hugh and she attended Marylhurst, earning a BS degree in Education.

Sister Hugh was a skilled teacher and administrator and she served in Catholic schools throughout Oregon and Washington for over 40 years, spending the last 16 years of her career in Spokane.

When Sister Hugh finished teaching in 1981, she took a sabbatical year and then began serving in her home parish, St. Michael, in Conrad, 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 (in the 1969 Ford Torino), 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 who still resides at Horizon Lodge.

Sister Hugh was truly an artist on a sewing machine and excelled in many other crafts as well.She amazed all around her with her progressive thoughts and ideas, and her interest in new technology, new trends, and new cultures, and the lives of her family members—even to her last day.She was funny, spunky, and a true joy to be around.

She always had a special place in her heart and life for children. She loved their company, humor, and antics and was always tolerant of their noise and frenzied activity even until the time of her death.She also had a special place in her heart for the family cabin on Lake 5 near West Glacier, and so enjoyed hearing the lonesome call of the loons that nest there.It gave her much peace to spend time at that incredible place.

Sister Mary Hugh died on Feb. 15, at the Sisters of St. Mary Motherhouse in Beaverton, Ore.

Sister Hugh, our Aunt Catherine, was a special and integral part of an extended family.She was more than “just” an aunt to us and will be dearly missed.

She is survived by her fellow sisters at St. Mary’s of Oregon; her sister Margaret Glynn of Conrad; 10 nieces and nephews; 24 great-nieces and nephews; and 38 great-great-nieces and nephews.

A vigil will be held Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Motherhouse in Oregon.A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Motherhouse on Feb. 21 at 10 a.m., followed by Interment at the Sisters’ Cemetery.

Sister M. Hugh requested that memorial offerings be directed to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.