Sister Elizabeth Dye

The following biography of Sister Elizabeth Dye was written by Sister Rita Lavigne for the Paola necrology book used in the Mount Saint Joseph mother house chapel.

Gladys Mary Dye, one of two children of William and Lillian Dye, was born in Nowata, Oklahoma, on November 30, 1911. She grew up living in the same town as her maternal grandparents.  Her grandfather, James P. Gibson, was a deputy sheriff in Nowata who was killed by escaping prisoners in September, l916. Many years later, Sister Elizabeth wrote about the experience, which gives insight to her hunger for social justice. Gladys entered the Ursuline Sisters of Paola Community in 1930 and was given the name of Sister Mary Elizabeth.

Sister Elizabeth Dye as Dean of the Junior College, 1951-1960.

Sister Elizabeth attended Ursuline Academy and Jr. College, Paola.  She eventually received a B.A. from Mt. St. Scholastica College, Atchison, Kan., an M.A. from St. Louis University, and later received her doctorate in education with a concentration in sociology from St. Louis University. She was a teacher in elementary and secondary schools from 1930-1949.  She became Principal and Dean of Studies at the Ursuline Jr. College in Paola from 1951 through 1960. From l963-l966 Sister Elizabeth was Chairman of the Sociology Department at Marillac College, St. Louis.  During 1966-1967 she worked at the Bad River Reservation (Odonah) as a VISTA Volunteer, doing community development work. After teaching 7th grade for 2 years, Sister Elizabeth was at Alcorn State University of Mississippi in Lorman until 1977. She devoted the rest of her teaching career to the improvement of African American education.  She was instrumental in developing new curricula for early childhood and special education and led in developing public forums among Mississippi colleges on issues affecting quality education in Mississippi.  Sister Elizabeth was a professor and chairperson of the Education Department at Alcorn. While at Alcorn, she was named Outstanding Educator of America for 1974.

Sister Elizabeth in 1967 with a child from the reservation.

When she retired to the Motherhouse in Paola in 1977, Sister Elizabeth helped organize the Foster Grandparent Program in Miami and Johnson Counties, Kansas, and was its first director.  Ill health forced her retirement from the program and she spent her last days in Monica Hall, the Sisters’ Infirmary. She had given so much and was such a special person! Sister Elizabeth’s funeral was held October 29, l979, in the chapel of the Motherhouse of the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, with Bishop Marian Forst as celebrant;  homilist was Rev. Curt Lanzrath, O.F.M., one of Sister’s students from grade school.  Sister Elizabeth is buried in the Ursuline Sisters’ Convent Cemetery.

The following tribute was written to Sister Elizabeth by Dr. Calvin S. White

A Tribute to Dr. Mary Dye

If I were as I wish to be
I would be kinder, calmer in my relations with my fellow men.
If I were as I wish to be,
I would be more pioneering in my actions,
Deeds and acts toward and with all
Whom I come in contact.
If I were as I wish to be,
I would be a CALM REBEL in my VERY SPIRIT
If I were as I wish to be,
I would want to SHAKE UP PEOPLE
from their apathy
their complacency.
If I were as I wish to be,
I would SERVE and SERVE and SERVE
Yes, and serve mankind
In so many areas of human endeavor
And I would do it all – yes,
I would do it with the delicate grace,
Poise, and humility and unselfishness
If I were as I wish to be—
I would – I know I would be like
Dr. Mary Dye!


  1. Patty Baldwin

    As a former Ursuline of Paola, I felt warm as I read the bio of Sr. Elizabeth. She always taught me by example. The tribute of Dr. White spoke to her heart.

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