Yvonne Anne Streff, a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt and friend, and a religious woman of deep faith, compassion and independence, died Dec. 21, 2017, at Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs in Yankton, South Dakota, after a brief illness.
Yvonne Anne Streff, a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt and friend, and a religious woman of deep faith, compassion and independence, died Dec. 21, 2017, at Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs in Yankton, South Dakota, after a brief illness. She was 83.
Yvonne spent 26 years as a religious sister at the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota, teaching music and other subjects to elementary students, and playing the organ at Catholic schools. She left the convent in her 40s to seek a more independent life, and embarked on a career as a counselor, county social worker and spiritual adviser. She remained deeply religious, practicing in the Catholic Church while gently hoping the church would embrace a more open attitude toward women’s roles. She believed deeply in the importance of beautiful liturgy and music to Catholic worship, and was interested in and studied other faiths.
Yvonne was born Jan. 20, 1934, on a farm near Salem, South Dakota, graduating from St. Marys Catholic School in Salem. She attended Mount Marty College in Yankton for one year before joining the Benedictine Sisters convent and earning a music degree. She later earned a counseling degree.
After leaving the convent, Yvonne worked as a social worker in Eldon, Missouri; Raytown, Missouri; Columbus, Nebraska; and for Douglas County Mental Health in Omaha, Nebraska. During her time in Omaha, she served as a loving foster parent and also continued as a Catholic education teacher and spiritual adviser.
She later lived at the Shantivanam retreat (Christ's Peace House of Prayer) in Easton, Kansas, associated with the Catholic archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, serving there as a spiritual adviser and resident, and loving her small cabin in the woods and fellowship with the community.
At various times later in her life, she also served as a childcare provider to nieces and nephews in Washington DC; Fremont, Nebraska; and Manassas, Virginia who remember her fondly.
She retired in Leavenworth, remaining active in prison ministry and spiritual advising and enjoying daily walks along the Kansas River, before moving in 2017 to Yankton to be near members of her former religious community. Throughout her life, she was an avid card player and reader, and a believer in clean eating, robust exercise and progressive social causes. She had many friends, discussing with them a better vision for God’s world without war, greed, or violence against women or the earth. Late in life, she fulfilled a lifelong dream with a trip to the Holy Land and another trip to visit Catholic shrine sites in Spain and other parts of Europe. She was a lively and loving presence at family gatherings.
She is survived by a brother and sister-in-law, Eldyn and Monica Streff of Overland Park, Kansas; a brother-in-law, Carl Dickey of Fremont, Nebraska; nine nieces and nephews; and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Anna (Hoenscheid) Streff of Salem, South Dakota; and a sister, Janis Dickey of Fremont, Nebraska.
The family is grateful to various friends for being a support to Yvonne throughout her life and illness, including Sister Marita Kolbeck of Yankton, Kathryn Steger of the Washington DC area and Tom Turkle of Leavenworth, Kansas.
A memorial service is planned at a later spring date in Leavenworth. She will be interred in Easton, near Shantivanam (Christ's Peace House of Prayer). Memorial gifts are suggested to Catholic Charities of NE Kansas, Christ’s Peace House of Prayer or the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton.