Sister Mary Philip Grottendick, educator and supervisor of parochial schools operated by the Sisters of Mercy, died Thursday of pneumonia at The Villa, the order's retirement home in the Pinehurst section of Baltimore. She was 90.
Retired since 1981, Sister Mary Philip had headed elementary and secondary parochial schools for the order in Maryland, Alabama, Georgia and Florida from 1953 until 1968.
"She was the kind of supervisor that people welcomed. She was so good, helpful and friendly," said Sister Barbara A. Wheeley, a member of the order's leadership team. "She visited schools and worked with educators, planning programs and hiring faculty."
A tall person whose rather stern-looking demeanor was belied by a kindly disposition, she was described by Sister Barbara as a "lovely, lovely soft-spoken woman with soft, white hair who was well-liked by everyone."
From 1966 until its closing in 1968, she had been principal at St. Peter the Apostle Parochial School in Southwest Baltimore, where she taught in the late 1940s. "She was the last principal of St. Peter's, and it was very difficult for her to close the school because the Sisters of Mercy had been a presence there since the 1850s," said the Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, formerly pastor at St. Peter the Apostle.
Father Roach recalled Sister Mary Philip as being a "tall and stately" woman, who spoke in a "very fine and clipped manner.
"She was a very gracious and dignified woman who was a great conversationalist. She certainly was a presence," he said.
She had also been a teacher at Mount St. Agnes High School in Mount Washington and St. Joseph Parochial School in Texas, Baltimore County. She also had been principal and teacher at several parochial schools in Alabama.
In recent years, she was involved in pastoral care at Stella Maris Hospice and had cooked and cared for retired priests living at Long Crandon, the former W. Wallace Lanahan estate, in Dulaney Valley.
"She was a remarkable and a very prayerful woman who had been very active in prayer groups at The Villa," said Sister Mary Luke Dent, who was with Sister Mary Philip when she died.
Born and raised Mary Cecilia Grottendick in West Baltimore, she was educated at Mount St. Agnes High School and earned a bachelor's degree in education from Mount St. Agnes College in 1952. She earned a master's degree in education from Loyola College in 1955.
She entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1927 and professed her vows in 1933.
She was the sister of Joseph F. Grottendick Sr., who established in 1947 J. F. Grottendick & Sons Inc., a well-known and now-closed Christian religious goods company in Baltimore. He died in 1991.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at The Villa, 6806 Bellona Ave.
She is survived by many nephews and nieces.