Birth: March 14, 1938
Profession: Feb. 5, 1966
Death: March 9, 2015
Religious of the Sacred Heart Patricia Thro died Monday, March 9, 2015, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. A natural teacher, she touched countless lives through her work in the classroom, especially at Maryville University in St. Louis. Since suffering a serious brain injury fifteen years ago, she has touched countless more by her witness as a woman of contemplation, perseverance and prayer. Her life will be celebrated with a funeral Mass on Saturday, March 14 at 10:00 am in the Oakwood chapel, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton. Burial will be in the Society of the Sacred Heart cemetery at Oakwood.
Mary Patricia Thro was born in St. Charles, Missouri on March 14, 1938, to Raymond Joseph and Mary Vincentia Hanlon Griesenauer Thro. She had one brother, Raymond John (Jack) Thro, who lives in Japan. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Midori, niece, Anna Thro Grauerholz of Redondo Beach, California, nephews Michael Thro of Germany and Ray Thro of San Francisco and her sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Pat entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at Kenwood in 1957, just two years after graduating from the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. Soon after, she enrolled at Maryville College in St. Louis, which was then owned by the Society. She made her first vows in the Society in 1960 and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Mathematics from Maryville College in 1961. She made her final profession in the Society 1966 in Rome. She later earned her Master’s in Science in Physics from Fordham University in 1967, and a Ph.D. in Education with a minor in Physics from Washington University, St. Louis, in 1976.
Sister Thro first began teaching in 1961 at Villa Duchesne in St. Louis, where she served as elementary and secondary mathematics teacher and religion teacher. After completing her master’s degree, she served as physics instructor and residence hall director at Maryville College, 1967-69.
In 1969, she moved to New Orleans, where she was superior and a physics teacher at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, New Orleans (the Rosary). She returned to St. Louis in 1971, to serve on the St. Louis Province leadership team, as superior at Villa Duchesne, and as Physics Professor and Chair of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Division at Maryville College.
Sister Thro would continue teaching math and science, both physics and astronomy, at Maryville College, later Maryville University, until her accident in July 1999. Her students would tell you that they always knew that Sister Thro cared about them, and every experience was an opportunity for learning; she received Maryville’s “Distinguished Teacher Award” in 1983. She also served the college as acting vice president for academic affairs, director of the Honors Program, dean of the former College of Arts and Sciences and vice president for academic and student affairs. In 2002, the board of trustees of Maryville conferred on Sister Thro the title Professor Emeritus.
Within the Society, Sister Thro was recognized as both spiritually and intellectually gifted. She was a kind person, a good listener with sound judgment, the kind of person one could depend on. A member of the province who was a student of Sister Thro’s said of her influence, “In Pat I saw a woman who truly loved God and whose life was lived out of that relationship with God. It was the ‘life lived and the things loved’ that impressed me deeply as a college student and which encouraged me to follow a similar path.”
Sister Thro served on the board of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles for many years. She participated in National Science Foundation workshops from 1978 to 1988, was chair of the Science Education section of the Missouri Academy of Science, 1986-88, and served as Fulbright lecturer in physics for two semesters in the Philippines. She was a woman who loved God and all of God’s creation, especially the cosmos.