Julia Clare Fontaine, SCN

Posted by Spalding Hurst

February 23, 2018

Julia Clare Fontaine, SCN, 97, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She died at Nazareth Home, Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday, February 22, 2018. She was a professed Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 76 years.

After making First Vows, Sister Julia Clare served in educational ministries. She taught grade school at St. Catherine in Lexington, Kentucky; St. Cecilia School in Louisville, Kentucky; and LaSalette in Covington, Kentucky. She taught high school at St. Frances in Owensboro, Kentucky and St. Mary in Leonardtown, Maryland. She served as a college instructor in the Biology Department of Nazareth College from 1959-1967; she later served as Department Chair (Spalding University).

She earned her PhD in Anatomy from the University of Louisville serving as an Associate Professor.

For many years, Sister Julia Clare served as Director in Community Service for the SCN Community.

She is survived by her nieces, nephews and their families, and by her religious community.

Visitation and Wake will be held 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. on Monday, February 26 at Nazareth Home.

A Prayer Service will be held at St. Vincent Church, Nazareth, Kentucky on Monday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 27 at St. Vincent Church, Nazareth, Kentucky followed by burial in Nazareth Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Ratterman Funeral Home, 3800 Bardstown Road, Louisville, Kentucky. Memorials may be offered to Office of Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 9, Nazareth, KY, 40048.


  1. Cathy I McLeod

    My freshman Anatomy and Physiology class 50 years ago with Sr. Julia Clare was a real treat. She was an amazing teacher. Throughout my nursing career her instruction was invaluable — from the Krebs cycle to her frequent phrase “where sodium goes, water follows”. She spiced up her lectures with comical anecdotes i.e. the hippie she saw walking a rat on a leash down Fourth Street. Speaking of rats, she originated the “Running of the Rodents” in the early 1970`s. It remains a yearly event at Spalding. Sr. Julia Clare was one of a kind I feel lucky to have been in her class.

  2. Russ Cole

    Sr. Julia Clare had a profound influence on me in forming my career plans. In her coaching she always interjected, “if this is where God wants you to be, you will know without any doubt”. I will always remember Sister with great respect for the influence she had upon me.

  3. Cynthia Tillman - SMA '62

    Sister Julia Clare was my homeroom teacher in my freshman year at St.Mary’s Academy (now St.Mary’s Ryken)in Leonardtown, Md. She was a great teacher and a wonderful role model for this non-Catholic.

  4. puntlandes

    Gott in Form eines intakten persönlichen Gewissens”. Zum Beispiel jenes des Jesus von Nazareth.

  5. Julia Deery

    On average, every 5 years, one can expect to see a major comet visible from the Earth. On average, every 5 years, I could expect to see Auntie Judy on our doorstep. There is a correlation here, I promise. Near the holidays, or as the summertime approached, the telephone would ring, deep throttled, as if it knew it had important news, “Daddy, its long distance!!” patter patter patter boom boom boom feet pounding the stairs, a breathless “Hello?” I would hide nearby listening to the conversation, as the urgency, the planning, the laughter, the machinations would begin. Then, suddenly, seemingly without warning, she would appear, standing there, like an apparition.
    Her black veils swelling with the Florida winds, she sailed into the living room, arm in arm with Auntie Peggy, and everything changed.
    Did you know that the word veil originates from the Latin word velum, which also means sail? For me, those days felt like we were

    on a magical voyage. I shouldn’t let you think that we weren’t prepared. We were. We had been cleaning and washing and weeding and mowing and cooking and preparing for weeks. She would only be with us for five days, so we had to make the most of it. There were rosaries to be said, on our knees, circled around the carpet, every evening. There were green beans, fried chicken, chocolate cake, lemonade and watermelon picnics at a local lake, where she could wade in the water up to her knees. We played gin rummy at night, and if you knew the rules, you could play. During the early years, she must have come only in the summertime, because my memories are of heat. The air was hot, the pillows were hot, the sheets were hot and I was mostly sunburned. I used to wonder how she could stand wearing all those clothes. One time I caught her with her bare legs propped up on the fan, shoes and stockings nowhere to be seen. We just laughed.

    It was just the three of them for so long. Daddy, his mother

    Imogene, and Auntie Judy, his only sister. I never knew Grandpa Charlie, he was killed in a car crash when Auntie Judy was 10 and Daddy was 13. This was a Depression era story. Daddy had to leave Baylor and go to work. Auntie Judy continued her education and, when she reached the age of 18, or 19, or 20…she decided to become a Sister of Charity of Nazareth. I once asked her why she became a nun and she said, “You know. I just loved how the sisters were with one another. They seemed so happy. So joyful. There are many ways to serve the Lord and I could never see myself being a wife and raising children like your mother. I loved learning, and after trying out a few grade levels (can you believe they put me in elementary? I almost didn’t make it) I taught high school. Then they sent me to graduate school, and I earned my doctorate in anatomy. I taught at Spalding for many years. I was very happy there.” We knew she was happy there. When we were older, we visited Spalding ourselves, and toured her lab. She would point out the rats

    she was breeding for the next Kentucky Derby. She laughed. “During Derby Week we have a race. We call it Run For The Rats. The students wager on the winner and we donate the money to charity. It is a lot of fun.” Fun was Auntie Judy’s middle name. Everyone who knew her, loved her. They loved her sense of humor, her spirit, and her complete disregard for the rules that don’t matter. Someone once wrote that people are like Russian dolls. I know that deep inside this person of ninety six, resting her head on a pillow, is a person of eighty, reading every book she can get her hands on, is a person of seventy, traveling here and there and everywhere with her good friends, “having a ball” as she liked to say, is a person of sixty wrapping up her teaching years with pride and a bit of relief, is a person of fifty, enjoying her visits with the family in Florida, in the Bahamas, in the mountains of North Carolina, in Maine, is a person of forty, witnessing the marriages of her nieces and nephews, witnessing the births of the next generation of our family tree, is a

    person of thirty, setting out to become a serious student, a marvelous teacher, and a Kentucky Colonel (this one came as a surprise), a person of twenty who took a long, hard look at her life and who said, “I will go this way, this road less traveled, and that will make all the difference,” a person of ten who has just lost her beloved father and who looks to her mother and her big brother for love and support, a toddler of two, who stares out at you from the old black and white linotype with eyes that you know from experience are bluer than the deepest blue sky, with all of life in front of her. You can’t wrap up a life in a five hundred word essay. But you can take the words, and, with a fold here and a crease there, create a ship. And, you can put a marvelous sail on the ship, one that will catch the winds for all time. You can turn it loose on the outgoing tide, festooned with rose petals and candles. If you stare at it long enough, you will see it rise into the sky. Each night, just as the evening star rises in the west, close your eyes and you will see this

    ship floating just above the horizon. Make a wish. And listen. Deep

    inside your heart, you will hear that old Shaker song, sung ever so

    softly and purely, partly as prayer and partly as reminder: ‘Tis the gift to be simple
    ‘Tis the gift to be free
    ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be

    And when we find ourselves in the place just right ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight
    Sail on, Auntie Judy. I love you forever.

    • peter, op

      *****this is such a a wonderful story…we felt the same way when our two aunts would come home for their summer visits. their love and
      joy for their religious lives filtered into the next generation with
      over twenty five of us entering various religious communities of men and women. we’re a very, very large family and when the first of those aunts passed away…five hundred family members arrived at her
      motherhouse for the funeral. a different community, but just as loving as the SCN community. thanks for sharing such great thoughts!
      my prayers for all…most sincerely, fr. peter, o.p.

  6. Rhonda Corbett

    Sister Julia Clare positively influenced the lives of both my husband, Dan, and myself as Spalding University graduates from 1984 and 1986, respectively. She was our Anatomy and Physiology Professor, my work study supervisor in the biology department, and our introduction to the Rat Race…we both trained and ran rats in several races energized by the love and passion of this activity started by Sister Julia Clare!

    We were honored to have Sister Julia Clare attend our wedding in 2005. She was happy to reconnect with two of her former students on this joyous occasion, and we shared many good laughs and memories!

    Sister Julia Clare was wonderful to us both in many ways over the years, and we are deeply saddened by her loss. We will always remember her with great love and respect.

    We offer our sincere condolences to the SCN Community, and to her family and friends.

    Dr. Rhonda Corbett


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