Sister Dolores Baumgartner, a retired parochial school and orphanage principal during her 74 years as a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, died of a heart attack Thursday at her order's Maria Health Care Center in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County. She was 93.
Born Dolores Julia Baumgartner in Philadelphia, she was the daughter of Bernard Baumgartner and the former Frances Reischmann. She attended St. Boniface School in North Philadelphia and decided to join the religious order in 1936. She moved to Baltimore and entered the order's candidature. She graduated from the Institute of Notre Dame in East Baltimore.
She was given the name Mary Berlindis and later resumed using her baptismal name. She professed her final vows in 1945.
"She worked in so many jobs within our order," said a religious colleague, Sister Bernice Feilinger, who lives in Baltimore County. "She worked with the elderly and children and infants. She worked with the postulants in our order. She was dear with every group."
In 1939, Sister Dolores began teaching first grade at St. James the Less School on Aisquith Street in East Baltimore. She was then assigned to the Madonna School in Fort Lee, N.J. While at this post, she earned a degree in elementary education from Seton Hall University.
"She had a beautiful smile and could sing to match it," said Sister Bernice. "She knew the words to the old songs and loved to sing. I think of her as being a grateful person who was full of joy."
In 1955, she was named principal of Pen Lucy's Blessed Sacrament School on Old York Road in North Baltimore. She also taught the eighth grade.
"It still astounds me how faithful her students were to her and the Blessed Sacrament School. She had the ability to remember names and all the members of a family whose children had gone through the school," said a former student, Sister Sharon Kanis, also a member of the School Sisters. "She was a good teacher and an interesting one, too. As principal, she kept an eye on us girls. She was a gentle person who was always kind."
In 1961, she became director of initial formation for her religious order and taught women who were candidates to the ministry.
In 1968, she resumed teaching at Sacred Heart of Jesus School at O'Donnell Street and Foster Avenue in Highlandtown. She then taught at St. Mary of the Assumption School in Govans.
She was next a leader of the sisters at the order's retirement and nursing home, Notch Cliff, in the Glen Arm section of Baltimore County.
In 1977, Sister Dolores took a new assignment and moved to Northeast Philadelphia's Tacony neighborhood. She joined the staff of St. Vincent Orphanage, which was founded in the 19th century to care for the children of German immigrants and those orphaned during the Civil War. During her tenure, the orphanage was expanding its ministry into new areas. She worked with dependent, neglected and abused children who had been placed in the custody of the institution, now known as the St. Vincent Homes.
"She was thrilled to be given the chance to work at the orphanage," said Sister Sharon, who lives in Govans. "She had a soft spot for the little ones."
She became a child care worker and was later a kindergarten teacher, the orphanage school's principal and program director of an extended day care program. She remained at St. Vincent's for 21 years. At the end of her tenure, she became a teacher's aide and receptionist.
"She helped the children cope with the deep trauma in their lives," said Sister Yvette Trentler, who lives in Baltimore County. "The children took to her and she took to them. It was her desire to bring a smile and love to children who may not have experienced either one."
In 1998, Sister Dolores returned to Baltimore and moved to Villa Assumpta, where she volunteered in service at the home for elderly sisters. In 2011, she retired fully and moved into the health care center.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Villa Assumpta Chapel, 6401 N. Charles St.
Survivors include nieces and nephews.