Valerie Kerber

Valerie KerberValerie was raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin and at a very early age joined the School Sisters of St. Francis community. For 23 years, she taught in schools and ministered in parishes in Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois, and in St. Paul, Iowa.

During her years as a sister, Valerie’s father would occasionally come to stay at the convent and make little repairs around the place. According to one of the sisters who met him, “He was a very gentle man.”

Valerie said that after those years of community life and ministry, “there comes a time for all of us to re-evaluate our lives and what we can and cannot actually do anymore for others.”

On January 24, 1974, Valerie was received as an associate of the School Sisters of St. Francis along with her husband Walter (the first male associate), in Sarasota, Florida. Sisters Helen Murphy, Teresa Ajdrna, and Arnoldine Monville lived in Sarasota at the time and attended the ceremony, along with Sister Kate Brenner, representing the congregation.

Valerie shared her musical talents at Incarnation Parish, both at the church and in the school.  She also played the organ at the Disney World Chapel for many celebrations.

Valerie and Walter were very generous in sharing their home, their time, and taking friends to various sites in Florida. Visitors came to Sarasota from Honduras, Central America, and Costa Rica. Many other guests, including sister musician friends, stayed with the family while on vacation, including Sisters Janet Shurr, Benedicta Fritz, Theophane Hytrek, Agnes Meysenberg, and Maria Terese Patterson. Other sisters who enjoyed short summer vacation visits included Jeannine Weidner, Mary Schmaderer, Clarissa Klass, Dorothy Sinibaldi, Fran Cunningham, and Barbaralie Stiefermann, along with many others. Valerie and Walter would transport sisters to and from the airport either to visit them or Disney World. Eventually Sister Arnoldine came to live with Valerie and Walter due to her poor health.

Walter and Valerie were proud to entertain their guests and made them feel welcome during their visit to their home, which they lovingly called the “Subtropic Retreat House.”

After Walter died in 1991, Valerie’s brother, Donald Peters, came to live with her. When their home was destroyed by a car running into it, they moved to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and lived there until Donald died in 2018. Valerie moved to Maria Linden Apartments in Milwaukee, where she again was close to some of her sister friends and associates. Now she is living nearby at the Village at Manor Park in West Allis.

“I have enjoyed my 50 years as an associate,” Valerie said, “and I only wish I could do more for the School Sister community.”