Sister Lois Mueller, a Sister of Mercy whose career as a teacher and administrator took her to parochial schools in Baltimore, Washington and Georgia, died Wednesday of pneumonia at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. She was 98.
"I have known Sister Lois since the 1960s, when she was my superior at St. Bernardine's on Gorsuch Avenue, and she was always a very great lady," said Sister Faith McKean of the Sisters of Mercy. "She was very gentle — but could be determined — but very gentle. Even though she was in positions of authority, she never held onto power."
The daughter of Matthew and Mary Agnes Mueller, Agnes Mueller was born in Baltimore and raised on Woodlea Avenue in Northeast Baltimore.
She attended the Shrine of the Little Flower School and was a graduate of Mount St. Agnes High School. She entered the Sisters of Mercy novitiate at Mount St. Agnes in 1932 and professed her final vows in 1938.
Sister Lois earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1952 from Mount St. Agnes College and a master's degree in psychology in 1956 from what is now Loyola University Maryland.
She began her teaching career in 1935 at Shrine of the Scared Heart School in Mount Washington, where she remained until 1937, when she joined the faculty of St. Peter the Apostle School in Southwest Baltimore.
From 1938 to 1942, she taught at the Immaculate Conception School in Atlanta, and then was named principal in 1942 of Holy Trinity School in Atlanta. She was assistant mistress of novices at Mount St. Agnes from 1946 to 1951, when she returned to St. Peter the Apostle.
Sister Lois was both teacher and principal at St. Cecilia's in Baltimore from 1952 to 1958, when she joined the lower school at Mount St. Agnes in Mount Washington. She was principal of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart from 1967 to 1968.
After serving for a year at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Baynesville, she worked part time teaching while caring for her elderly parents.
Sister Lois worked in the outreach ministry at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium from 1977 to 1978, when she began teaching at the old Mount Washington Country School.
"Visits from students for her early classes at St. Cecilia's school were a special delight to her," said Sister Margaret Downing, a Sister of Mercy and a close friend.
"The boys from Mount Washington gave a big party for Sister Lois nearly 40 years after she had taught them," said Sister Faith. "They never forgot her."
Sister Lois worked for four years as assistant principal at Immaculate Conception School in Washington before volunteering from 1987 to 1988 at Mercy Medical Center.
Her last assignment was working for the Learning Bank of COIL, a West Baltimore Street adult literacy center, until her retirement to the Villa, her order's retirement in the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County.
"She brought the same enthusiasm and welcoming spirit to her adult students as she had to the young children she had taught," said Sister Margaret. "Adults who had not had the opportunity to read or attain a high school diploma found in her a friend and willing collaborator."
After retiring in 1998, Sister Lois, a music lover, provided music for Mass and community ceremonies.
"She did not feel she was particularly gifted, but she encouraged others to use their gifts and did the background tasks that made that easier for visiting musicians," said Sister Margaret.
"In her later years, she played at the rituals which welcomed the bodies of our sisters back to the Villa for funerals," she said. "Sister Lois also loved to listen to Elvis Presley singing hymns."
"She eventually suffered profound deafness, which was a heavy cross to bear because she so loved music," said Sister Faith.
Sister Lois — while never published — enjoyed writing each day and had disciplined herself to do so.
"She loved words," said Sister Margaret. "The room in which she wrote reflected her love of family, community, friends and a special interest in birds."
"She was hospitality personified during her years at the Villa," said Sister Margaret. "She was a lovely, lovely gentle woman. You always found her smiling and very rarely did she let anything perturb her. She was a very kind person, but not retiring."
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the chapel at The Villa, 6806 Bellona Ave.
Sister Lois is survived by nieces and nephews; and grand-nieces and grand-nephews.