View Full Version : Krauss answered call to serve God, Marines

04-12-06, 07:06 AM
Krauss answered call to serve God, Marines
She joined Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, became pharmacist
Posted: April 11, 2006

The Few. The Proud. The U.S. Marine Corps slogan was never more true than in the case of Sister Natalie Krauss.

Before joining the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, the former Helen Krauss was a member of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, serving during World War II.

More recently, in hospice care in Madison, she wore a blue bathrobe with a Marine emblem on the pocket.

"This is a first for our congregation, to have someone honored with military rites," said Jean L. Merry, communications director for the order. "The commemorative flag will be given to the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, with whom she shared her life for 58 years."

Krauss died of cancer Saturday. She was 84.

Interestingly, it was initially easier for Krauss to accept a calling into the military than to become a nun. A graduate of Messmer High School, she first worked as a secretary. Early in 1943, a girlfriend called with the news that the Marines would begin accepting women.

Krauss asked a priest for his advice. He told her, "You are a good woman, and the military needs people like you."

The Marines put it even more emphatically: "Be a Marine . . . Free a Man to Fight!"

"Her father had served during World War I, and both her brothers were in the service during World War II," Merry said. "She was delighted to say that, when she enlisted, her mother told her she would have gone with her had she been young enough."

Krauss and her friend were accepted, shipping out for Camp Lejeune, N.C., that July.

"Boot camp was only four weeks for the girls, instead of six like it was for the boys," Krauss said in a recent interview for the order with Merry.

"Of course, it only took us two days to learn how to march in formation, not two weeks!" she said with a grin.

Like many of the new women Marines, she worked in clerical positions. She served in both Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, achieving the rank of sergeant.

"Sister Natalie recalled seeing the large strategy map where she worked, and she knew the code words for various meetings and landings, particularly for the invasion of Japan," Merry said.

After the war, she returned home, again working as a secretary and then as an assistant to a photographer. But the religious life kept calling her.

"I continued to hear a voice inside of me that always said: 'You will never be happy anywhere else,' " she told Merry.

"But I fought it. I had just bought a brand-new watermelon pink coat, and a sister could not wear that! And you certainly could not throw away a new coat - so, of course, I could not go to the convent."

Another girlfriend from the service was interested in the religious life. Krauss volunteered to take her on a visit to Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Krauss entered the novitiate in 1948, professing her vows in 1950.

With the help of the GI Bill, she began studying to be a pharmacist, completing her degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She served an internship, passed her state boards and became the order's first pharmacist.

In 1974, Krauss began working as a pharmacist for Project Hope at Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado, Ariz., through the National Navajo Health Foundation. She continued to work with Project Hope for most of the years until retirement in 1994.

In addition to her religious community, Krauss is survived by sisters Margaret Stieber and Natalie Van Alstine and a brother, Richard Krauss.

Services were held Tuesday. Krauss donated her body to the Medical College of Wisconsin.