Summer of 2007, Ocean Beach lost two of its very inspirational women who were an important part of OB’s history. Sister Susan Campbell and Louise Thistle-Dicken who were both well-known instructors and friendly faces we would see walking in OB.
Both women were active in the community, and active walkers, who frequently visited with friends in our local coffee houses.
Sister Susan would often be seen with Connie, her sister, also a “Sister” strolling our streets or on their way to morning coffee.
Louise Thistle-Dicken, in her bright red outfits, would sometimes be seen acting out her book’s drama characters, as she walked through OB or Point Loma, to her destination… usually a coffee house where she would work on her books. Many in our community will remember how these two women touched so many lives.
LOUISE FRANCES THISTLE-DICKEN
Sept. 26, 1941-Aug. 12, 2007
Louise Frances Thistle-Dicken, 65, of San Diego died Aug. 12. She was born in Lynn, Mass., and was a drama and literature teacher at the Midway Adult Center.
Survivors include her husband, Charles Dicken; and brother, Lewis Thistle of
Sister Susan Campbell; classroom instructor, counselor to college women
By David E. Graham, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER, Aug.5, 2007
As a young nun in 1953, Sister Susan Campbell helped shape the tone of classroom instruction and of personal counseling for students of the new San Diego College for Women, the future University of San Diego.
She also taught women who were training to become nuns at a center in El Cajon in the 1960s, and she was a founding member of the Spiritual Ministry Center in Ocean Beach, which still operates.
Sister Campbell, a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart congregation of nuns, died July 24 of natural causes at Our Lady of Fatima Villa in Saratoga in the Bay Area. She was 89.
She taught English literature, and the students “knew she cared about them as persons,” recalled Sister Sally Furay, who taught with her and later became USD’s provost and vice president.
Sister Campbell lived in the student residence hall where she was available for conversation and counseling, and to make certain women were in the rooms by curfew.
“That’s a 24/7 kind of thing,” Furay said.
She had been a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for 63 years.
She and two other Sacred Heart nuns opened the Spiritual Ministry Center in Ocean Beach in 1984. Men and women from throughout the world visit there for special prayer services or programs, for spiritual counseling sessions or for retreats that could last several days.
Sister Eileen Bearss, who worked at the center from 1987 to 2000, said Sister Campbell was perceptive in understanding people’s problems and insightful in determining a next spiritual or counseling step. Sister Campbell worked there until 1997.
A native of Valentine, Neb., she graduated from Duchesne College in Omaha in 1938 and entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1944 in Albany, N.Y., where she professed her first vows in 1947, becoming a nun. She professed final vows in Rome in 1953, becoming a nun for life.
For a few years before entering, she taught at Valentine High School and worked for the president of the Chicago school board.
Her early years in the Society of the Sacred Heart were spent teaching in schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco.
She began doctoral work at Stanford University in 1950 and completed her degree in 1953. Her dissertation dealt with the poetry of Thomas Merton, a monk in Kentucky who was a spiritual writer of the time.
Sister Campbell was on the faculty of San Diego College for Women as a teacher of English literature and drama from 1953 to 1959.
Her interest in literature inspired the students there to explore writing further, said Virginia Rodee, a nun, who was a student of Sister Campbell’s and now is assistant vice president for mission at USD.
“She was very, very thorough and loved literature herself and communicated that love,” Rodee said.
The school opened in 1952, and when Sister Campbell arrived in 1953 she took Furay’s job while Furay went to Stanford to complete her own doctorate.
In 1959, Sister Campbell became the founding director of the novitiate, or training program for women becoming nuns, in El Cajon. She served as mistress of novices, leading the nuns in training, until 1968, when she was named superior of the order’s convent in Seattle. The El Cajon program ended in 1969.
San Diego College for Women and its affiliate men’s school, San Diego University, merged in 1972 to become USD.
From 1972 to 1976, Sister Campbell was head of Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco.
In 1977, she was named to begin a novitiate in Manila for training Filipina women. She was director until 1979, when she returned to San Francisco to do recruitment.
Sister Campbell retired to Oakwood Convent of the Sacred Heart in Atherton in 2001 and moved to Our Lady of Fatima Villa in April 2007.
She is survived by her sister, Constance, also a nun of the Sacred Heart; two brothers, Robert W. Campbell of Calgary, Canada, and Richard L. Campbell of Denver; and two half-sisters, Sharon Melchior and Anne Marshall of Omaha