Sr. Mary Frances Loftin, DC, died April 1 at age 87, at Seton Residence in Evansville, Ind. During her nearly 60-year ministry in Catholic health care, she had served as clinician, administrator, board member, advocate and — at the end of her ministry — volunteer.
She was born Mae Frances Loftin in Atlanta in 1928. She completed a certificate program in nursing at Providence Hospital in Mobile, Ala., in 1949 and entered the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul congregation in 1952. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Milwaukee's Marquette University in 1955 and a master's degree in health care administration at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1970, when she transitioned from nursing supervision to administrator roles at ministry facilities.
She headed her local community as superior from 1972 to 1974 before becoming administrator of Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, a position she held until 1981, when she became provincial councillor for a congregational province in Evansville.
Sr. Loftin was president and chief executive of St. Vincent Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., from 1987 to 1992. She then headed the Daughters of Charity National Health System in St. Louis, until 1995. She was instrumental in the merger of that system with the Sisters of St. Joseph Health System of Ann Arbor, Mich., to form Ascension Health. She was diocesan chancellor for the Birmingham diocese before serving as board chair of Providence Hospital of Mobile, and Saint Thomas Hospital. She volunteered at Providence until 2011.
She was known for her commitment to the vulnerable, including through her advocacy efforts for the uninsured. She also helped to transition Ascension Health's board to lay leadership.
Sr. Loftin was a recipient of CHA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. During an interview with Catholic Health World around that time, she said, "So much a part of my life as a Daughter of Charity is making sure there is not a difference in the care of the poor and the needy.
"The only way I've been able to keep the mission alive is to try to live it," she said.
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