Sister Mary Rose, 93

Music teacher

June 25, 2007

Sister Mary Rose Simms, who taught music in Catholic schools around the country, died of complications from pneumonia Tuesday at Mercy Medical Center. She was 93 and lived at her order's retirement home in Rodgers Forge.

Born Emily Regina Simms, she was the daughter of a banker and the second of three children.

She loved music from an early age. At 13, while a student at St. Cecilia's School, she placed first in the junior division of the Greater Baltimore Piano Playing Contest, winning a grand piano. "She was very talented, and she decided she wanted to teach piano from then on," said a niece, Dottie Schultz of Glenwood.

Sister Mary Rose graduated from the former Mount St. Agnes High School in Mount Washington. She spent 11 years doing clerical and secretarial work, but she felt unfulfilled. Her aunt belonged to the Sisters of Mercy and, after consulting her family, she entered the order in 1944 and professed her vows in 1950.

She earned a bachelor's degree in education from the former Mount St. Agnes College in 1955 and received a master's degree in music and education from Catholic University of America in 1969.

Over the years, she taught thousands of children as a music and choir teacher. Her career took her to schools in places including Pensacola, Fla., and Homewood, Ala., in the 1950s. In Baltimore, she taught at both her alma maters, Mount St. Agnes and St. Cecilia's, as well as St. Bernard's School, Mercy High, and Shrine of the Sacred Heart School. She also taught at Holy Trinity School in Washington and St. Mary's School in Rockville. She spent the decade before her retirement, from 1982 to 1991, giving private music lessons in Baltimore.

She was actively involved in volunteer work until her death.

Sister Mary Rose never got her driver's license and always wore a small veil, even after it was no longer required.

Ms. Schultz said her aunt was known for her sweet demeanor, never saying anything critical of anyone. And she said Sister Mary Rose - "Aunt Regina" to her - had a knack for starting up lengthy conversations with strangers.

"It was always entertaining to us: You can't hurry Aunt Regina," Ms. Schultz said. "If you're going out with her, you need to allow the time for her to talk to whoever she wants to talk to."

Services have been held.

Sister Mary Rose is survived by her sister, Dorothy Toohey of Parkville, and nieces and nephews.

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