Friday, September 19, 2014

Who was Gertrude Kistler?

By Emily Siegel '14

Take a break from the onslaught of new information to familiarize yourself with the Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library and consider some less serious information.  Get to know the girl for whom this building was named.

Gertrude Kistler was the daughter of Bertha and Sedgwick Kistler, two Pennsylvania natives. Born in 1908, Gertrude lived with her parents in Philadelphia while she attended St. Leonard’s Academy, a Holy Child school once located in West Philadelphia. During the summer of 1920, the family was struck with tragedy while on vacation sightseeing in the West. On July 7, 1920, the 12 year old Gertrude drowned in the fast flowing Merced River that runs through the valley of Yosemite National Park. H.J. Pink, the Los Angeles chauffer who was with her at the time, also lost his life in an attempt at her rescue.

                Less than 5 years after Gertrude’s death, Mr. and Mrs. Kistler reached out to Rosemont's president at the time, Mother Mary Ignatius Carroll, SHCJ, and shared their interest in memorializing their lost daughter by providing the campus with a new building. Their offer fit the campus’ growing need for an actual library facility, as the one located in Main Building was no longer large enough for the college’s growing collection. That same year the family announced their gift, a number of Gertrude’s St. Leonard’s classmates entered the college as freshman. The Kistlers turned personal tragedy into a gift for future generations. Remnants of Gertrude’s life can still be found around the library; her portrait and personal desk can be found in and near the Front Reading Room.