Already reeling from a fusillade of self-inflicted blows, the Milwaukee Archdiocese took a resounding haymaker to the gut with the death of Mary Ehrmann on March 2. For almost four decades my younger sister was an iconic teacher in the elementary grades at several area Catholic schools, and the number of lives she changed for the better is incalculable. In and out of the classroom she was always direct, challenging, entertaining and exasperating -- sort of like John Wayne in a pantsuit, only more dauntless and formidable.
Mary loved her profession so much that when she took a job at a Milwaukee public school many years ago it lasted just a few weeks because the weak-in-the-knees-and-brain principal insisted that her primary duty was to keep the students from killing each other. "I want to be a teacher, not a referee," she told him when she turned in her resignation.
She might‚Äôve become a world-class golfer, but her favorite hole was the 19th. She unapologetically hued to her own path, even when there were neon warning signs. After surviving breast cancer she continued to smoke cigarettes, and it was cancer that took her down just four days before her 60th birthday. While her judgement was sometimes open to question, her heart never was.
Devoutly Catholic, Mary offered up her final months of intense suffering for "pagan babies." Her very last words to me were "I love you," but I cherish just as much what Mary told me during enervating end-of-life medical treatments whose side-effects included a condition requiring her to take a nuclear laxative.
If the results were all she hoped for, said my always funny and acerbic sister, "I‚Äôll name it after you."
Your sister was a true original, a wonderful, caring, bright, funny person who will be missed. I've told that story about her leaving MPS a million times, as an example of great devotion over big bucks. If it is true that we do not die until the last person to speak our name crosses over, Mary will be with us for a very, very long time. So sorry for your loss--and ours.
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Pete Ehrmann
Published July 26, 2016
A nagging gap on the Milwaukee sports history shelf has finally been filled with the publication of "Happy Felsch: Banished Black Sox Center Fielder," a biography of the homegrown icon and member of the infamous Black Sox World Series fix.
Published June 7, 2016
West Allis native Don Lutz was a professional boxer in Miami Beach, where he trained with numerous world champions, including Muhammad Ali. And even though they responded to being drafted to the Vietnam War differently, the two couldn't be divided.
Published June 4, 2016
The illustrious Muhammad Ali, who died Friday night at 74, visited Milwaukee at least four times. He always left an indelible, unforgettable mark on the town and the people that saw him, including this writer.
Published May 31, 2016
Native Milwaukeean Luis "Cuba" Arias, 25, is an undefeated middleweight who hopes to lead a boxing renaissance here when he fights at the Wisconsin Center on June 4 against Jorge Silva. Now a Florida resident, Arias talked with OnMilwaukee about his homecoming and his ring career.
Published March 29, 2016
Thanks to my often reluctant participation in our grand democracy by voting in elections, my mailbox has lately been overflowing with brochures from candidates. Most of it is just annoying, but today's mail brought something downright offensive.
Published Feb. 3, 2016
John L. Slaughter reigned, in the long-ago words of a local newspaper, as "king of the Milwaukee colored colony," owning one of old Downtown Milwaukee's biggest gambling joints. And his fall from the throne was as jaw-dropping as his rise.
Published Jan. 24, 2016
Milwaukee's original "Greek Freak" Theodore Anton stood only waist-high to the current one playing for the Bucks. But in a match-up in Anton's boxing arena, 6'11" Giannis Antetokounmpo would be in over his head.
Published Dec. 19, 2015
The mark British light-welterweight Jerome Wilson hoped to make in boxing, until he left the ring on a stretcher in his 11th pro fight last year, is now indelibly etched with "Wiped Out? The Jerome Wilson Story."
Published Nov. 27, 2015
One hundred eight years ago, a 69-year-old man walked from Portland, Maine, to Chicago. A week later, Weston arrived in Milwaukee for a walking contest with political implications that overshadowed its competitive ones.
Published Nov. 6, 2015
I rise now to heap encomiums on Louis Mueller, though he is long gone, and I know him only from a front-page article in The Milwaukee Journal 100 years ago titled, "Milwaukee man Downtown for the first time in 31 years."