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97-Year-Old Nun Celebrates St. Mary’s 100th Anniversary

As a youngster, Emma Bolt, the daughter of Applegate, Ore., merchant and miner John Bolt, once invited a hungry and sick stranger to supper.  Her Mother obliged and nursed the man back to health.  He was given shoes at Emma’s request and slept in the girls’ playhouse.  He told Emma “You are kind ma petit and the good God will bless you.”

Emma attended a three-month public school and had a private tutor hired by Bolt between terms. For high school Emma boarded at St. Mary’s Academy in Jacksonville, which was run by the Sisters of Holy Names. She graduated in 2 ½ years and joined the religious order.

As a sister of Holy Names, she took the name, Sr. Leonelle. She became a noted botanist and science professor at Marylhurst College.  Sr. Leonelle loved the rain because it brought the mushrooms she studied throughout her life. She said no poisonous mushrooms grew at Marylhurst.

In 1965 when she was 97, Sr. Leonelle returned to the Rogue Valley to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her alma mater, St. Mary’s School. The 1887 graduate had lived from the horse and buggy days to the space age.

Source: "97-year-old Sister Attending Centennial of St. Mary's School." Medford Mail Tribune 31 Oct. 1965: 3. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.