Remembrance of the Life of Sister Alice Eugene Tighe SL
Sister Alice Eugene Tighe
April 13, 1915—August 29, 2013
Sister Alice Eugene Tighe was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was baptized Josephine. She was the second daughter of Eugene Francie Tighe and Alice Margaret Weir. Within four years the Tighes had four small daughters and soon would add two more girls and two boys. Alice Eugene later wrote “It is from good parents that a good and happy world is made possible.”
In 1917, the Tighe grandparents homesteaded a farm on the great plains of northeastern Colorado. A bank was opening in the nearby town of New Raymer and the grandparents suggested that their son move there with his wife and young family. Alice Eugene recalled her grandmother, Carrie Tighe, teaching her: “When I was five or six years old, I could play major scales by ear. At that time Grandma Tighe helped me a bit. I think, however, I was six or seven when Daddy arranged for piano lessons.”
“Most of our family members from my great grandfather on down to our youngest great nieces seem to possess musical genes. My great grandfather was an organist in Germany. His daughter Carrie married Joseph Tighe. They first lived in Nebraska, where Grandma as a young woman traveled by horseback to teacher her piano students in their homes.”
“Even in the sparsest of economic times, Daddy paid a sizeable amount to enroll four of girls in the Art Publication Society of St. Louis. This organization provided teachers trained in Progressive Series Piano and Theory. Several trained teachers came to the small Colorado town where we lived. Hence we received systematic training through grade and high school.
Alice Eugene wrote, “The Tighes became acquainted with the Sisters of Loretto when our pastor in Elizabeth Colorado arranged with Sister Francetta Barberis for us girls to attend St. Mary’s Academy, Denver, and board there. Each of the four of us older girls graduated in June 1932 through 1935 and each entered the Loretto Novitiate immediately after graduation beginning with Sister Lucina, then Alice Eugene, Ann Virginia, and Carolyn Mary. Sister Kathleen was much younger, entering from California in 1943.
As a young Sister of Loretto Alice Eugene taught music in parochial schools from Omaha to Monrovia and at Loretto Academy in Louisville and St. Mary’s in Sterling. Her academic and musical training continued in summers at Webster, Notre Dame and Michigan University, where she earned bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees. One summer she studied Gregorian Chant at the renowned Abbey of Solesmes in France. Alice Eugene taught briefly at Loretto Heights College and for sixteen years at Webster University. She taught three years at Xavier University, New Orleans, and one at Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi. She finished her formal teaching career as a founding faculty member of two preparatory music schools in St. Louis, where her students varied from grade school children through collegiate adults.
In 1999 Alice Eugene retired. She moved for a few months to Northern California to be with her Sister sisters, Kathleen and Ann Virginia, but she missed her students. Those who came to visit with her would play piano while she stood alongside, giving direction. Soon she returned to St. Louis where she coached piano students for another ten years.
When Alice Eugene celebrated her 75th anniversary in 2008, she invited all of her former students. A great many students and their families travelled from every part of the country. Many played and gave tribute to Alice Eugene, naming all the life lessons she had taught them along with the music. They said what a reflection of God she was for them.
Alice Eugene moved to Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary in 2011. She died peacefully the morning of Thursday August 29, with her sister Kathleen by her side.