Mount St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa
commend to your charity the soul of their beloved


who was born April 3, 1911
who departed this life July 28, 2006
in the 76th year of her religious life.

Wake Service: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial: Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 1:00 p.m.

Presider: Father Ronald Friedell

May she rest in peace!

The famous author of “Death and Dying,” Elisabeth Kubler Ross, once said, “Our concern must be to live while we’re alive.” For those who knew her well, this would aptly describe Sister Marilyn Gowans’ life. She was loved as a superior and principal because she knew how to lighten things up and have fun. One pastime she especially enjoyed was playing cards. Until very recently, although confused at times, she never forgot the two times a week that she was scheduled to play 500. Cards brought her to life and put into action her scheming ways of trying to win.

Agnes Gowans was born on April 3, 1911 to Willard and Catherine Noonan Gowans. She was the fourth of five girls in the family. Home was Waterloo, Iowa. After going to kindergarten and first grade in the public school, she completed her grade and high school years at St. Mary’s parochial school. Sister Muriel Ford was a favorite grade school teacher.

She wrote in her autobiography that after reading about Father Damien and his work with lepers at Molokai, she was drawn to consider doing the same. However, when she realized she could not be a nurse, she looked for something “tamer.” For years Agnes had kept up a correspondence with Sister Muriel Ford. That relationship and the fact that Sister Muriel stopped at her home one summer settled her decision to apply for entrance into Mount St. Francis.

After her novitiate year in the convent she was received with other members of her class on April 7, 1931 and given the name Sister Marilyn. She began ministry at St. Francis Xavier in Dyersville. After thirteen years there she was missioned at Alta Vista, Alton, Stacyville, Monticello, North Washington and Wahlert High School in Dubuque. For six years she was associate superior at Mount St. Francis. After leaving formal teaching, she tutored LD students at St. Edward’s in Waterloo for several years. For twelve years she volunteered in the cafeteria and as a visitor at Stonehill Care Center. In 1990 she retired to Mount St. Francis and in 2004 to Holy Family Hall.

A quote from her autobiography states that, “My fondest memories are years spent on mission with Sisters Jerome, Patrice, Gertrude Ann and several others. We had many good times.” Indeed, Sister Marilyn, if you thought you had many good times while here on earth, we can imagine what happiness you now must have in enjoying what the Lord has prepared for you in eternal life. We rejoice with you!

Sister is survived by her two nephews and her Franciscan sisters with whom she shared 75 years of her life.

Sister was preceded in death by her parents and her sisters, Kay, Mildred, Genevieve, and Mary Bernadette.


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