Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
With celebrate the life and share the story of our Sister Virgil Bohman who died on December 15, 2010.
Our Sister Virgil Bohman may have been small in stature, but she definitely was mighty in Franciscan spirit.
Mary Shirley Bohman was born was February 25, 1924, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Oscar and Margaret Lynch Bohman. Shirley remembered a lively, mischievous childhood, especially teasing and playing tricks with the family’s dogs – Springer Spaniels. She also liked the country life of spending summers on her grandparents’ farm. During one of those visits, she persuaded her grandmother to cut her hair as short as her brothers…all in hopes of playing and climbing faster.
At the age of 27, she entered our community and followed her calling to serve God as a Franciscan Sister. While she was in the Novitiate, she was sent home because the doctors thought she had polio. However, once she was home, it was discovered to be a brain aneurysm and so one carotid artery was tied off. She returned several months later and made First Profession of Vows on June 13, 1954, taking the name Sister Virgil.
Her ministries in our community were unique. Most notably, she learned to administer electroencephalogram (EEG) and worked in this field in St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, IL; St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur, IL; and St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan, WI. While at St. Mary’s, she and Dr. Clarence Glenn, neurologist, set up the first EEG department in a room of the Operating Room Suite. Because she performed the exams at night, it worked out well since her patients needed to be asleep. Her professional style was meticulous, and her colleagues both admired and respected her exactitude.
She then studied the coding of medical records and ministered in this way for a few years at St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan. She began her time in the office at 4:30 a.m. so she could do the difficult coding before the rest of the Medical Records staff came on duty. When she returned to the Motherhouse in 1995, she served as the switchboard operator at Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) until 2004.
What we loved about her was her practicality: she enjoyed a cold glass of Pepsi with a plate of cheese and crackers (and a few caramels). Her hobbies ranged from making acrylic figurines, to talk radio and conservative politics. She admired those who would argue politics with her and not lose their cool.
Her advice was simple: Do not give up if you really believe you are called to do something in life—forge ahead in your own way.