On May 19, 1925, a baby girl was born to Frank and Louise Pfaller. This little girl, named Virginia, would be the second youngest in a family of eight children, three boys and five girls. Virginia was baptized at St. Lawrence Church across from St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee. Virginia’s father worked for St. Lawrence, so the family lived in a home on the property on 26th Street.
The Pfaller home was the neighborhood “hangout” for all the children. Virginia’s mom was a good cook. Somehow or other, she always had enough food for whomever the children brought home. Virginia said her mom always baked a special yellow cake with chocolate frosting and often it was ready and waiting for everyone as they came home from school.
With all the activity in the Pfaller home, Virginia spent her early years outdoors playing baseball with her brothers. She also watched many ball games. That enjoyment lasted her whole life.
Other memories of her early years were that they always had a New Year’s Party and at times over 100 guests would come to the party. From the time she was little, Virginia loved people. As her older brothers began to marry after returning from military service, weddings were occasions she always enjoyed.
It was never a question if Virginia would become a sister or not; the question was what community she would enter. She had the School Sisters of St. Francis for grade school, but the Lake Franciscans at St. Mary’s Academy. Her best friend was going to the Lake Franciscans; her older sister Winifred had already entered the School Sisters of St. Francis. Finally Virginia made her decision and it was the School Sisters of St. Francis. When Virginia went to tell her dad, he said, “That is where I really wanted you to go.”
So in the fall of 1945, Virginia entered St. Joseph Convent and all she had to do was walk across the street! After a year in the postulancy – and being corrected for looking out the window and checking on the neighborhood! – she was received in 1946 and given the name Sister Floretta. During her novitiate, she began her studies at Alverno College to become a teacher.
Mission life began in 1948 at Medford, Wisconsin. Several years later she served in Cedar Lake, Indiana, and Our Lady of Victory in Chicago. All the rest of Sister Virginia’s teaching years were in Wisconsin. In 1971, she earned a master’s in religious studies and taught in that field until she retired in 2003.
When Sister Virginia retired, she was part time religious education director at St. Mark Parish in Red Granite, Wisconsin. She stayed in that area and retired in Wautoma, Wisconsin, where she lived with Sister Winifred, since years ago, several members of the Pfaller family made their retirement home in Wautoma.
Virginia tells of two memorable teaching experiences. In 1963, she was asked to go to St. Boniface in Waumandee, Wisconsin, to teach only boys. The pastor wanted to keep the boys and girls separate from fifth grade on. She said, “They did everything boys would do!” That year her mother died, and all the boys made a card for her to take along to her family as she went to the funeral.
Another one of her special memories is that she received a package from a boy’s father who was in military service and on the outside it said “Open in front of the class.” She did so, and it was a dead alligator. The class sent “Thank You” notes to the boy’s father for the dead alligator. The father said it was alive when he sent it, so he sent her another one! So that alligator roamed the classroom every afternoon.
In retirement years, living together in Wautoma, Sister Virginia and Sister Winifred assisted family members, visited the sick, and helped where needed. When Sister Winifred’s health changed, she came to Campbellsport to spend her final days. (Sister Winifred died on June 30, 2014, at Campbellsport just before it closed.) Sister Virginia then prepared to move to Sacred Heart when the renovation was completed in 2015.
Sister Virginia lived a full life and shared it in so many ways. If she saw that somebody needed anything and she had it or could get it, you got it! This generous spirit was witnessed by many people throughout her life. It was a joy for Sister Virginia to celebrate her 75th Jubilee in 2021, even though it was during the pandemic. Thank you, Sister Virginia, for sharing your years of faithful Franciscan living.
Sister Virginia, you shepherded many people in your life, teaching them to listen and follow the Good Shepherd. You were shepherded right into heaven during your last illness. Now, rest forever in the arms of the Good Shepherd.