Gertrude Irene Mack, 100, passed away peacefully on April 3, 2020. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Michalik Funeral Home in Chicago. Their website, www.michalikfuneralhome.com is available with an online photo album from Gertrude’s life but also a guestbook where you may post a remembrance. Private graveside services will be Monday April 6, 2020 at the St. John’s catholic cemetery in Viola. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is no visitation. A Mass of Christian Burial and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Gertrude, daughter of Thomas Edward and Elizabeth Kelly Mack, was born June 19, 1919 in Viola, Illinois. Gertrude grew up on the family’s farm that was first settled by her Irish ancestors in the 1850s. She was very close to her siblings, Don, Otie, and Mike, and her extended family all her life.
Gertrude was positive, upbeat, religious, spiritual, and a cheerleader for the rest of us. From her upbringing, Gertrude developed strong faith, a moral compass, a desire for life-long learning, respect for hard work, a warm sense of humor, and the self-confidence to think independently. Gertrude had a particular gift for making others feel good about themselves through her infectious enthusiasm and unbounded confidence in them. Her life was an example of the independent spirit of the individual, and she was keenly interested in the inter-connectedness of religion, psychology, spirituality, morality, and an open and equitable society.
Gertrude began college at Mount St. Clare in Clinton, Iowa and majored in music, polishing her piano skills during her two years there. Her love of the piano and daily habit of practicing would become one of her trademarks throughout her entire life. She played organ for masses at The Clare and could perform a flawless rendition of Clair du Lune into her late 90s.
She transferred to St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul, Minnesota and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1940. At the age of 20, Gertrude moved to Chicago on a scholarship to pursue a graduate degree in social work. She was drawn to Loyola because of its focus on social justice, peace, truth, and charity. She said, “Loyola was always home for me. It is what brought me to and bonded me with Chicago and so many wonderful institutions and people throughout my life.”
She enjoyed the City of Chicago with its view of Lake Michigan, museums, the theater, symphony, and the Lyric Opera. She sang in the Holy Name Cathedral choir and was part of a weekly bridge group.
She began her professional career with the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society in 1941 where she began to learn about mental health and families. She worked at the Madden Mental Health Center, retiring in 1991. She was well-read in her field, particularly regarding Jungian psychology. Her interests prompted her to begin research in psychiatry and religion, with an “early retirement at the age of 72” to take a four-year course in which she received a certificate in the Rubenfeld Synergy Method, that integrates body, mind, spirit, and emotions. She continued to work part-time at the Family Service and Mental Health Center of Oak Park in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. She finally retired again at the age of 90, 68 years after beginning her career.
In 2017, two weeks prior to her 98th birthday, Gertrude received the Damen Award at the Founder’s Dinner from Loyola University school of social work recognizing leadership in industry, community, and service to others. Previously, she also received the Siedenburg Award from the Loyola School of Social Work for being an outstanding and involved alumna. Gertrude received the Illinois Statewide Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 from the National Association of Social Workers. In 2019, Gertrude received the outstanding alumni award from St. Catherine’s College.
Gertrude provided advice for today’s students in a Loyola Magazine a few years ago, and that advice extends well to all of us. “Work hard. Have fun. Have good friends. Respect authority. Make a connection to yourself and to the community. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat good food. And keep the faith.” Her life provides a guide not only to longevity, but to thriving and leading a life well-lived.
Gertrude was preceded in death by her parents, her three brothers, and a nephew. She had 21 nieces and nephews, 51 grand-nieces and grand-nephews, and scores of their descendants.
The family thanks the staff and her friends at The Clare for their care over the past 11 years when she was a resident.