Sister Mary Odile (Margery) Cahoon, OSB, 82, of St. Scholastica Monastery, died Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in the Monastery.
Born in Houghton, Mich., on July 21, 1929, she was the daughter of William and Ruth (Smothers) Cahoon and was valedictorian of the Houghton High School class of 1947.
An outstanding scholar and researcher, she studied at the College of St. Scholastica from 1947-1950. Sister Mary Odile subsequently earned a B.S. at DePaul University, Chicago, in 1954, where she graduated cum laude, majoring in biology with minors in math and chemistry and earned an M.S. degree in 1958 in biology. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1961 with concentrated studies in cellular physiology, biochemistry, and cytology.
She spent many summers participating in research both in the United States and abroad. Her most memorable experience was joining her co-researcher, Dr. Mary Alice McWhinnie of DePaul University, to spend nine months in a U.S. Antarctic Research Program at McMurdo Station in 1974.
They were the first two women ever to spend the winter in Antarctica. Their research project was titled, "Metabolic Studies of Cold Resistance of Invertebrates and Fish in Antarctic Waters." She published many articles in scientific publications.
Sister Mary Odile recently celebrated her 60th year of monastic profession on Aug. 14, 2011. She had entered the Duluth Benedictine community Sept. 8, 1949, during her junior year of college. On July 11, 1951, she professed her monastic vows. She began her teaching ministry at St. Timothy's School in Chicago from 1951-1954, and from 1954-1977 she taught in the College of St. Scholastica's biology department.
Sister also had an illustrious career as an administrator beginning in 1961 when she served as chair of the biology department until 1973. She was academic dean (1963-67), chair of the Natural Science Division (1971-76), vice-president/academic dean (1976-81), senior vice-president/dean of the college (1981-93) and senior vice-president (1993-2004).
Other administrative roles she filled over the years were with the North Central Association as consultant-evaluator and commissioner-at-large; with the National Science Foundation as proposal evaluator; with the Minnesota Private College Research Foundation as faculty development proposal evaluator; and with the United States Department of Education as title III reader and GAANN field reader. She developed the Ireland Study Center in Louisburgh, County Mayo, in 1979, continuing as its director for 25 years. It was the first study abroad program of the College of St. Scholastica, enabling students and faculty to study in Ireland for a full term.
Sister Mary Odile received numerous honors and awards during her academic career, including a National Science Foundation Science Faculty Fellowship; Outstanding Educator of the Year: 1972; Listings in American Men and Women in Science and World Who's Who of Women; Fullbright Seminar member for International Education: Germany 1989; and she was named Professor Emerita at the College of St Scholastica in 1998. In addition, she served on many boards over the years: Board of Benedictine Sisters Benevolent Association; Board of Trustees of St. Mary's Medical Center (vice chair, chair); the Duluth Medical Education Council (chair); Board of Directors of St. Joseph's Medical Center, Brainerd, (vice chair, chair); Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center Board of Directors; St. Francis Regional Medical Center Board of Directors, Shakopee, Minn.; board member of Fulbright Association-Minnesota Chapter (secretary/treasurer).
For the last 13 years of her life, Sister Mary Odile served as treasurer of St. Scholastica Monastery.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and William Cahoon, and her beloved sisters, Sister Janelle Cahoon and Aileen Coon.
Besides the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, she is survived by her brother, William James Cahoon, and may devoted relatives and friends.
WAKE SERVICE: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel with visitation from 8-9 p.m.
Mass of Christian burial: 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, in the Chapel with Father Kevin Gordon presiding.
Interment will be at Gethsemane Cemetery.
Memorials to St. Scholastica Monastery are preferred.
Arrangements by Bell Brothers Jarvi Dowd Funeral Home.