In Memory

Sr. Freda Burns (Victorian)

Sister Freda Burns

1917 – 2011


Formerly known as Sr. Mary Victorian, Sr. Freda died peacefully on Feb. 28 at Good Counsel Convent in White Plains.  Born in New York on Jan. 7, 1917, the daughter of Fred and Jessie (Goodspeed) Burns, she entered the Sisters of the Divine Compassion in 1940 and professed her final vows in 1948.  Sister Freda attended Good Counsel College and graduated with a degree in English.  She continued her studies at Fordham University and received a master’s in English.  Sister pursued additional advanced work at St. John's University, Teachers College Columbia University and Colgate University.  Sister Freda was at St. Mary’s High School from 1944-1966 as the yearbook advisor.  Her leadership and her students’ work gained applause by winning the Columbia Award for outstanding yearbook for several years.  Sister continued her leadership at John F. Kennedy High School from 1966-1994 teaching English and leading the Yearbook Club.  She was an intellectual who read a book-a-day, did the New York Times’ crossword puzzle before Mass each morning, and actively utilized her e-mail on a daily basis.  Sister Susan Merritt, President of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion commented, "Sister Freda was her own woman, clear about who she was and what she was about. An "early adopter", she was using computers long before her peers, and teaching those much younger. She never relinquished her extraordinarily clever and insightful sense of humor."  Sister is survived by her Sisters of the Divine Compassion, and her niece, Maureen Stano.  Sister Freda now rests at Calvary Cemetery in White Plains.



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03/20/12 10:52 AM #1    

Arthur(harry) McCue

  Here's a belated thanks to Sr. Mary Victoria aka Sr. Freda Burns. I was an "undistinguished" student at SMHS in the sense that I was terrible at and had zero interest in Science, Math, and especially Sports.This made me a zip in the eyes of many of the teachers. In Sophomore year I found a friend in Sr. Victoria. A naturally kinder, gentler person she did not feel uncomfortable with my rebelious, wise guy attitude and would invite me into the convent library after class for pleasant chats. It turned out she enjoyed trout fishing and so did I. She interested me in reading and seemed to validate my position as a "more creative sort" (manic, wise-cracking class clown to put it another way!) By choosing me to be art editor of the yearbook it made my ambition to become an artist at least in someway seem attainable.

  These days politicians rant about bad teachers but as I look back on mine I can remember about eight or ten that really "clicked" with me. Were all the others bad? Yes, some few were. Most were probably good for most and a  "game changer " for a special few. As luck would have it I have just retired from a 42 year career as a teacher and if I was a "game changer" for some of those wonderful students I,in turn, owe this to my "Sr. Mary Victorias". 

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