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Former U-Mary president Sr. Thomas Welder passes

University of Mary

Former University of Mary president Sister Thomas Welder has died at the age of 80.

She was named president of what was then Mary College in 1978. She served until 2009.

Sister Thomas had recently been diagnosed with kidney cancer. She passed away early Monday morning.

Her successor – Monsignor James Shea – attributes the growth at U-Mary to Sister Thomas’ vision and tenacity. Shea said she can be described as having “grace and grit.”

"In other words, she wasn't a pushover," Shea said. "She didn't believe that servant leadership meant that she should be a wilting violet, who would roll over when any wind blew."

Shea said she knew that if you're going to make it, you have to stand tall, and you have to be resilient.

"Sister Thomas was a beautiful woman of grace and grit," Shea said. "That will be a legacy."

Sister Nichole Kunze is the prioress of the Annunciation Monastery. She said people always remembered how personable she was, and how she had the knack of remebering people's names.

"Relationships were key to her," Kunze said. "That's why our alumni contine to come back, and why she still had an office on campus, because so many people kept looking for her, and wanted to get back in touch with her. And the example she gave as a servant-leader certainly will live on."

Welder was a recipient of the Roughrider Award, the state of North Dakota's highest honor.

A public visitation is scheduled Sunday from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. Her funeral will be Monday, June 29th, open to family and friends. U-Mary is providing a livestream of the visitation and funeral at www.youtube.com/universityofmary/live.

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