Sister Dorothy Ann Flori, SSMN, joyful teacher and principal, dies at 92
FORT WORTH — During her years as a student at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School, Sofia Pendergast Barnes got to know the school’s principal, Sister Dorothy Ann Flori, rather well.
A self-described talkative busy body as a youth, Barnes was never in serious trouble but earned enough stern looks to warrant some disciplinary attention from the Arlington school’s chief administrator.
“She was strict but fair,” recalled the 1981 St. Maria Goretti graduate. “Sr. Dorothy Ann never held grudges and never labeled me as a bad kid. Every day was a new day with the opportunity to prove myself.”
The longest-tenured principal at St. Maria Goretti, serving from 1970 to 1989, Sr. Dorothy Ann expected students to line up quietly in the hallways and stand up as a show of respect when an adult walked into the classroom.
“As an adult, I realize that discipline and her example helped form who I am today,” explained Barnes, praising the former principal for being consistent and devoted to her students. “I’m grateful to have had that upbringing.”
Sr. Dorothy Ann Flori, a Sister of St. Mary of Namur who served Catholic education in a variety of roles for 66 years, died peacefully on February 26 at Our Lady of Victory Center in Fort Worth. She was 92 and a member of her religious order for 74 years.
A wake for Sr. Dorothy Ann is planned for Wednesday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at the OLV Center, 909 W. Shaw Street. Her brother, Father David Flori, will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, March 1 at 10 a.m. at the OLV Center.
Born to Aloysius and Barbara Flori on September 18, 1925, Dorothy Ann attended St. Mary Academy of the Sacred Heart in Waco from first grade through high school. One of her classmates, the late Sister St. John Begnaud, SSMN, gave the valedictorian address at the school’s commencement. Sr. Dorothy Ann was the class salutatorian.
After graduation, she left her parent’s home to join the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur in 1944. She made her final vows on August 15, 1952.
Her credentials include a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and education from Our Lady of Victory College and a Master of Arts degree in history from St. Louis University. In addition to the regular Texas Teacher Certificate for Elementary and High School, Sr. Dorothy Ann received the Professional Administrator’s Certificate in 1967 entitling her to work as superintendent or principal in any school in Texas.
During her years in Catholic schools, the seasoned educator served as a teacher and principal at numerous campuses in Texas. In 1996, she taught third grade at the newly-opened Holy Rosary (now St. Joseph) Catholic School in Arlington and continued to work as a part-time resource teacher there until 2004. Long after most people retire, Sr. Dorothy Ann continued to tutor students at Our Lady of Victory School in Fort Worth.
Former OLV librarian Ann Tillery Edmonds considers Sr. Dorothy Ann “the best teacher I have ever known.” She frequently observed the sister tutor youngsters in the library.
“She worked with the very little ones but was equally at home with the eighth graders who struggled with algebra,” Edmonds said. “There were no discipline problems with the boys. She could handle them and did!”
If the library was unavailable, the elderly, diminutive sister would climb the stairs to the stage with youngsters and tutor them there.
“Sister always had a smile on her face and obviously loved to teach,” the retired librarian added. “Her mind was sharp and she had a fine singing voice. Sr. Dorothy Ann was an absolute treasure.”
The talented educator was Michael Clubb’s principal and math teacher at St. Maria Goretti but it’s the time spent with her out of the classroom he remembers most.
“I would visit with her during recess — she was always walking the school grounds — and we had many conversations on a variety of topics,” said the 1981 SMG graduate. “I always felt welcomed around her. She really enriched my spiritual life.”
This past Christmas season, Clubb and fellow SMG classmate Sofia Pendergast Barnes visited the OLV Center to decorate the convent for the holiday and eat lunch with their former principal.
“Sr. Dorothy Ann was still sharp as a tack and seemed to really enjoy our time together,” Clubb said. “I told her what an exceptional educational and spiritual experience I had while attending St. Maria Goretti and how many of those lessons have carried me through life. I attribute the majority of that experience to her.”
Sr. Dorothy Ann is survived by a brother, Fr. David Flori of Dallas, and members of the SSMN community.