Dominican University lost an invaluable member of its community and collective history with the passing of Sister Jeanne Crapo, OP on Feb. 13. Sr. Jeanne died at the age of 93 at the St. Dominic Villa in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. A Sinsinawa Dominican Sister for 68 years, she was an alumna of Rosary College (precursor of Dominican University) and served for many years as the university’s archivist. She fulfilled a number of roles at the institution, including admission director, academic dean, English teacher and director of the Rosary-in-London and Oxford study abroad programs. Retired in 2009, Sr. Jeanne’s last project, up until the time of death, was writing the history of Dominican’s University’s first 100 years. The book is scheduled for publication next year.
A native of Denver, Sr. Jeanne studied chemistry at Rosary College, where her aunt, Sr. Rosemary Crepeau, chaired the Italian and French departments. She earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Michigan. After 10 years of teaching in parochial and public schools in Wisconsin, Montana and Nebraska, Sr. Jeanne returned to Rosary College in 1961 as the college’s first director of admission. She had a special research interest in Chicago literature and history and Victorian Gothic architecture.
In the fall of 2016, Sr. Jeanne moved to the Mound, the motherhouse of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, after 55 years in residence on campus. She battled an almost lifelong case of severe rheumatoid arthritis and multiple health challenges with tremendous fortitude and grace. Her diminutive stature belied an indomitable spirit and she served as a role model of strength in the face of adversity for generations of Dominican students.
“Jeanne never let her diseases define her,” said Sr. Janet Welsh, director of The Mary Nona McGreal Center for Dominican Historical Studies. “She possessed a ‘can do’ spirit whether teaching English, tending to her beloved campus greenhouse, organizing Dominican’s archives or writing the definitive history of the university. Few people live with such determination and courage.”
She was a devoted friend and loving colleague to her fellow Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, many of whom were with her at her death. Preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Leonie (Desjardins) Crapo; a sister, Mary Dyrenforth; and a brother, Charles Crapo; Sr. Jeanne is survived by nieces, nephews and her beloved Dominican Sisters.
The university will hold a memorial mass for Sr. Jeanne on Friday, Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m. in Rosary Chapel. She also will be remembered at the university’s Remembrance Mass on Sunday, March 18 at 11 a.m. in Rosary Chapel. A wake and funeral liturgy were held at the Mound.