Age 96

A woman of faith and courage, Sister Mary del Rey Ekler ministered in the beauty of the city to the mountainside to the high desert and the ocean shore where she served people who were ill, dying and elderly.

Born to Russian immigrants, she attended high school at Mercy Mount Loretto in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She graduated in the spring of 1946 and entered the Sisters of Mercy that fall in Council Bluffs at the age of 18. Her sister Sharon who preceded her in death was also a Sister of Mercy.

Sister del Ray earned a nursing diploma from Mercy Hospital in Council Bluff, Iowa, a bachelor’s degree in nursing education from the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, and a master’s degree in nursing administration from the University of Colorado in Denver, Colorado.

She ministered as a floor supervisor for one year at Mercy Hospital in Des Moine, two years at St. Catherine’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, and five years at Mercy Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where she also served as their director of their school of nursing. She returned to the hospital in Council Bluff to teach nursing and serve as the director of their school of nursing before moving to Des Moine, Iowa, as the director of nursing services at Mercy Hospital. Next, she relocated to Joplin, Missouri, as the assistant director of nursing services at St. John’s Medical Center. She evolved into providing pastoral care and becoming the director of pastoral care and hospice.

After attending the University of California in Berkeley and earning a certificate in theology, she became the vice-president of sponsorship at Mercy Hospital in Williston, North Dakota. Next, she ministered at St. Charles Hospital and St. Catherine’s Residence, both in Bend, Oregon, as a pastoral care director.

One of her more recent ministries was letter writing. Many friends, family, sisters, staff and associates were blessed with her note cards.