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Florence Griggs

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Posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 9:00 pm

Sister Francella Mary, (Florence Griggs), died at the Marie-Rose Center at Mary's Woods in Lake Oswego on Jan. 7, 2012. She was 91. She was a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names for 71 years.

Sister Francella was the daughter of Lloyd Manley and Amanda West Griggs, born on Feb. 5, 1920, the older of their two daughters. Her childhood would seem to an outsider to have been a sad one, for her father died when she was 3, and her mother died when she was 9. Their mother was admitted to the Tuberculosis hospital in Salem the same day as her two little daughters left their home in Siletz to enter Christie School. Their mother had the happiness of seeing them in their First Communion dresses just before she died.

Sister Francella, in her customary optimistic way, remembered happily the care and advice her mother gave her, and enjoyed the school and sisters at Christie, where she stayed until her senior year of high school. After graduating from St. Mary's in Medford she entered the Holy Names novitiate and made her first profession of vows on her 23rd birthday.

After earning a bachelor's degree in English and Spanish, Sister Francella went on to become a much loved high school teacher at Holy Names Academy in Seattle, at Holy Names Academy in Spokane, at Sacred Heart Academy in Salem, at St. Mary's High School in Eugene, Star of the Sea, Astoria and St. Mary's Academy in Portland. At least three Holy Names sisters feel they owe their vocations to Sister's example. A wonderful correspondent, she kept in touch with many of her pupils through the years.

In the late 1960s, she turned her attention to her cultural roots. The tribe to which her family belonged, the Siletz, had been terminated decades before. She joined a commission, which, with the help of Senator Mark Hatfield and other Oregon congressmen resulted in reestablishing the Confederated Tribes of that nation. She became an "esteemed elder," and the oldest member of the tribe, and served as the grand marshal of their victory parade several years ago. In her work she assumed some prestigious positions: executive director of the Portland Urban Indian Program, on the board of Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA), professor in the Indian Center at Eastern State University in LaGrande. Every student was important to her - from fourth graders in New Mexico to minority students at Jefferson High School in Portland. She spent many years in the Southwest working with Native American and Hispanic children.

In the Holy Names community, Sister was noted for her cheerful, unflappable personality, her good humor, appreciation of all God's creatures and complete trust in God's love and guidance. She was always ready to help, and always ready for a good time.

Sister Francella is survived by family members, the Siletz Tribe and members of her religious community. Remembrances may be made to the Holy Names Sisters Foundation, P.O. Box 411, Marylhurst, OR 97036.

The Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, in the Provincial House Chapel.

She will be buried with her tribal family on the Siletz reservation.

Arrangements entrusted to the care of Riverview Abbey in Portland.

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