Countless acts of kindness

HARLINGEN — Many who knew Sister Ramona Meurer describe her as a humble and powerful person who was willing to go anywhere and do anything to help others.

As a Franciscan Sister of Mary for nearly 70 years, Meurer spread her kindness and support to several communities throughout the world from the Harlingen area to as far away as Kenya.

At the age of 89, Meurer died on May 17 at the Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Mo.

Meurer entered the Sisters of St. Mary on Aug. 1, 1950, which later became the Franciscan Sisters of Mary in 1987.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at Saint Louis University in 1956 and in 1992, she earned certification as an activity director.

After serving for several years as the chief dietitian and food service coordinator for infirmaries, hospitals and health centers in Missouri, Wisconsin and South Carolina, Meurer was a clinical nutritionist and dietitian at the South Texas Hospital in Harlingen from 1971 to 1980.

According to a press release, Meurer designed and built kitchens for the St. Mary’s Infirmary in St. Louis, St. Mary’s in Jefferson City, St. Clare in Baraboo, St. Eugene’s in Dillon and the hospital in Harlingen.

In 1980, Meurer traveled to Kenya to provide primary health care for women and served as a community outreach organizer, nutritionist and health educator, as well as helped build homes and schools.

Meurer returned to South Texas and served as a nutritionist, chief dietitian and manager of food service at South Texas Medical Center from 1989 to 2002.

She then began serving as a volunteer for the local and national Red Cross and traveled to different communities that were devastated by disasters.

“She served three weeks at Ground Zero during the 9/11 tragedy, then was asked to remain there for another five weeks, which was almost unprecedented,” the press release states. “She helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and she worked with victims of wildfires in California and the Northwest and of floods in Texas and Iowa.”

Based on Ramona’s actions, it’s apparent she cared more about giving than receiving.

In July of 2008, Ramona was scheduled to fly to Denver from her home in Harlingen to receive the Peacemaker Award at the Franciscan Federation meetings.

However, when Hurricane Dolly struck the Valley, she decided to ride out the storm so she could conduct rescue work with the Red Cross instead of attending the award ceremony.

Franciscan Sister of Mary director of public relations Sandy Ashby knew Ramona for close to 10 to 12 years.

Ashby said even when Meurer was at The Sarah Community, a retirement facility where the sisters live, she still had a passion for assisting others.

Meurer and other residents of the retirement community would crochet recycled plastic bags into mats for the homeless.

“So even when she was getting frailer, she found ways to be useful to help the poor and care for people. She was just amazing,” Ashby said. “She’s helped so many people in her life. I think she will not be forgotten.”