When Sister M. Rebecca Fromme took her final religious vows in 1935, Pope Pius XI reigned in the Vatican and Franklin D. Roosevelt was in his first term as president.
Sister Rebecca, born Clare E. Fromme, died Wednesday at Mercy Hall infirmary. The infirmary is part of her order's Convent of Mercy motherhouse in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood. She was 99.
Sister Rebecca was born in Pittsburgh, the daughter of the late Bernard and Gertrude Ernst Fromme.
A nun for 83 years, she entered the Pittsburgh Sisters of Mercy from the city's St. Andrew Parish in 1930. Sister Rebecca earned degrees from Mount Mercy College, now Carlow University, and Duquesne University.
She taught or served as a school administrator for 45 years. Her Pittsburgh teaching assignments in Catholic schools included Epiphany, St. Mary's, St. Colman, St. Cyril of Alexandria and Pius V. She served as principal at St. Maurice, St. Mary's and Holy Family in Latrobe. She held a similar post at St. Thomas the Apostle School in South Miami, Fla.
After retiring from education, she was a pastoral care worker at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale for 15 years. She retired in 2002 and returned to Pittsburgh.
Friends said Sister Rebecca sought to live her life according to the precepts of the founder of her order, Sister Catherine McAuley: "Centered in God, for whom alone we go forward or stay back."
"She loved to be wherever there were a lot of people," her friend of more than 50 years, Sister Ann Hostovich, said. "She loved parties and she loved fun."
Sister Rebecca was also a diligent worker as an instructor and as a principal. "She was a great influence on young teachers and helped them to shape and improve the qualities of their teaching," Sister Ann said.
Sister Rebecca's focus remained on the children in the schools where she worked, according to Sister Marie Immaculee Dana, Pittsburgh leader of the Sisters of Mercy. "She would bring out the best in the teachers -- young or not so young -- to get them to bring out the best in their students."
While she loved life, she did not fear death, Sister Ann said. "I have never in my life seen a more peaceful passing from one life to the next," she said.
Arrangements are by the Edward P. Kanai Funeral Home, Greenfield.
Len Barcousky: email@example.com or 412-263-1159.