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Sister Bernadette Madore, 93, dies

Posted By October 13, 2011 | 1:08 pm | Lead Story #2, Local
Bernadette

Sister Bernadette Madore, 93, the fourth president of Anna Maria College, died Sunday at Marie Esther Health Center in Marlborough. Though retired, she was still working at the college established by her order, the Sisters of Saint Anne.
“She really gave her entire life to this college,” said Jack P. Calareso, president of the college in Paxton.
Sister Bernadette was the college’s president for 15 years, after serving as its dean of academic affairs for more than 25 years. She authored a 50-year history of the college – 1946 to 1996 – with a postlude to bring the story up to date when it was published in 2000. In it she wrote that she herself had been part of the college’s growth since 1947.
Sister Bernadette was still working on the college’s archives a couple weeks ago, President Calareso said.
“She was a highly respected educator, loved by her students,” said Sister of St. Anne Rollande Quintal, presently dean of mission effectiveness, who was registrar for 34 years. Sister Bernadette taught biology before and during her time as dean, she said.
“She leaves a wonderful legacy at Anna Maria,” Sister Rollande said. “Anna Maria today has her stamp on it.”
“I was an undergraduate when she was the academic dean,” said Sister Paulette Gardner, director of the Sisters of St. Anne office of communications. “She certainly shaped the education we received and certainly maintained the mission of the college. And she also foresaw trends in higher education,” helping the women’s college admit men. She said Sister Bernadette also listened to faculty who wanted graduate programs.
“She certainly was a faithful religious woman,” she said of the woman known in religion as Sister Marie Rose Bernadette, who was in her 74th year of religious life. “She always attended province chapters and was frequently a delegate to the general chapter. The better part of her religious life was focused on the college. She knew every brick and stone. She was a botanist, so she knew every tree and leaf.”
She also knew – and got – what she wanted there. President Calareso recalled how she would send him congratulatory notes inviting him to stop by the archives office she created at the library. When he got there, the president found she knew more than he did about whatever issue her note referred to.
“I would see that look in her eye” at some point in the conversation, he said. Then he realized she was about to tell him – gently – something he did that she didn’t agree with.
“She was a great mentor,” he said. “She had a great sense of humor. She loved this college and she wanted this college to grow. She’s not going to be there. It’s a big loss, to me personally” and to others.
When Sister Bernadette no longer drove, she persuaded others to take her to the college for her archives work, which she also did at home, the president said. He recalled a day shortly after he arrived, when he couldn’t get a hold of Allen Krause, then chief financial officer. When the CFO returned, he explained that he’d gone to pick up Sister Bernadette.
“You never said ‘no’ to Sister Bernadette,” explained Sister Rollande.
Sister Bernadette was the daughter of Joseph and Mina (Fontaine) Madore of Southbridge. She completed her elementary education at Holy Name of Jesus in Worcester, and obtained her high school diploma from St. Anne Academy in Marlborough. She held bachelor’s degrees from the University of Montreal, Quebec, and a master’s and doctorate from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
She joined the Sisters of St. Anne in Lachine, Quebec, and professed her vows in 1937. After teaching in Montreal schools for 10 years, she returned to the United States to teach at Anna Maria College in Marlborough, before completing her doctoral studies.
In 1952, Sister Bernadette was named chairwoman of the biology department and dean of the college, which moved from Marlborough to Paxton that year. From then on she remained connected to the college, serving in academic positions and joining the founders in planning, overseeing and governing Anna Maria.
When she had been dean for 25 years, the college created the Sister Bernadette Madore Award, presented annually at commencement to the graduating undergraduate with the highest grade point average.
From 1978 to 1993 she served as the fourth president of the college, which expanded under her leadership, adding programs, students and faculty to serve a wider range of needs.
She is survived by her sister Irene Lafleche, of Southbridge, nieces and nephews, and her Sisters in community. She was predeceased by two brothers and three sisters.
Her funeral Mass is at 10 a.m. today in the Convent Chapel, with burial in St. Mary Cemetery, Marlborough. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Fitzgerald & Collins Funeral Home, 378 Lincoln St., Marlborough.
A memorial contribution may be made to Sisters of St. Anne Retirement Fund, 720 Boston Post Road East, Marlborough, MA 01752 or to a charity of one’s choice.
Anna Maria College plans to celebrate her life and work with a Memorial Mass at noon, Friday, Oct. 21 in the Foundress Hall Madore Chapel, which was named for Sister Bernadette.