Sister Mary Helena Murphy, a retired parochial school educator who was a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for 65 years, died Aug. 14 of peripheral artery disease at her order's Villa Maria Health Care Center in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County. She was 97.
The daughter of Louis Murphy and Sarah Ellen Sweet Murphy, Margaret Virginia Murphy was born and raised in Oella.
After graduating in 1937 from Catonsville High School, she worked as a secretary for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. from 1938 to 1945.
In 1945, she entered her order and as a novice took the religious name of Sister Mary Helena. She professed her vows in 1949 and her final vows in 1955.
Sister Mary earned a bachelor's degree in 1958 in education from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University, and a master's degree in education in 1967 from the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y.
She held parochial school teaching assignments in New York and Washington before becoming a junior high school teacher in 1961 at St. Matthew parochial school in Baltimore. From 1966 to 1972, she was principal and a junior high teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas parochial school in Hampden.
From 1972 to 1992, she was a teacher at Our Lady of Hope parochial school in Dundalk, from which she retired in 2011.
"She was a great character and a legend at Our Lady of Hope, where she taught the sixth-graders arts and crafts and how to waltz. She made you learn," said the Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, who became close friends with Sister Mary. "She had a long and lasting effect on her students and people."
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Villa Assumpta Chapel, 6401 N. Charles St.
Sister Mary is survived by a great-nephew and two great-nieces.