Sister Mary Annina, teacher kept dolls

March 13, 1995|By Donna Boller | Donna Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Sister Mary Annina Byrne, 84, a teaching nun who collected more than 700 dolls during nearly 60 years, died Friday at St. Joseph Medical Center of a heart condition.

Born Eugenia Claire Byrne in 1910, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame order in 1931 and professed vows in 1933, the same year she began collecting dolls.

At its peak, her collection contained more than 700 dolls from around the world.

Her first dolls were two from Czechoslovakia, given to her by her sister, who suggested, "Why not collect dolls?"

Some of her favorites in the collection -- she couldn't decide on one favorite -- included one given to her by Princess Grace of Monaco, a Pinocchio from France and many dolls given to her by soldiers who bought them overseas. She would often bring dolls into her classroom to illustrate geography lessons.

"These dolls mean an awful lot to me because of the people who have given them to me," she said in a 1990 Evening Sun article.

Sister Annina continued the hobby for nearly 60 years, amassing more than 40 made by Madame Alexander of New York and 60 by Hummel of Germany.

"All of her friends who traveled always brought her a doll," said Sister Caroleen Baummer.

She said Sister Annina was outgoing and "interested in people."

Sister Annina taught in elementary and middle schools in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey from 1933 to 1957. She returned to her native Baltimore in 1957 to teach at St. Ambrose School in the Park Heights neighborhood. In 1960, she came to St. Mary's School in Govans, where she taught for 24 years. She was active in St. Mary of the Assumption parish until the early 1990s when she became ill.

Sister Annina graduated from the Institute of Notre Dame, and earned a bachelor's degree in education at College of Notre Dame of Maryland in 1950 and a master's degree in education from Seton Hall University in 1954.

She enjoyed teaching, sometimes to the chagrin of some of her students. "People thought I was brusque as a teacher, even cruel at times," she said in the 1990 article. "But I loved teaching, and I always thought I had to try to bring everything out in those kids."

A Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 3 p.m. today at the chapel of Villa Assumpta, 6401 N. Charles St. Burial will be in Villa Maria Cemetery in Glenarm.

She had no immediate survivors.

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