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- After retiring and while fighting lung cancer, she founded a center to help the homeless in the state of Michigan.
A South Florida university is mourning the loss of their former longtime president who became a staple in the community while building the school into one of the top Catholic colleges in the country.
Barry University announced on Tuesday that Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, who served as president of the school from 1981 until her retirement in 2004, died at a health care facility in her native Michigan. She was 90 years old.
O’Laughlin emerged as a leader for both Barry and the community of South Florida as a whole, working to build the school’s enrollment from less than 2,000 to over 7,000 by the time she left while working with several groups handling issues in the area that included immigration.
Most notably, she facilitated a meeting in 2000 that included Elian Gonzalez and both of his grandmothers just months before the decision to take the child from his Miami family and return him to his native Cuba.
After retiring and while fighting lung cancer, she founded a center to help the homeless in the state of Michigan.
O’Laughlin was the first woman to be named to the Orange Bowl Committee and served on other groups in the area, including the Florida Holocaust Memorial Center.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights College in her native Michigan before getting her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Arizona.
Funeral services will take place in Michigan next Monday and Tuesday. The school will plan a memorial service to honor “Sister Jeanne” at a later date.