Food pantry founder dies at 87


THIS IS WHAT it’s all about — whether on the giving or the receiving end, the Kuzma Care Cottage founded by Sister Ann Ellen Quirk (right) unites the community for a common cause. Free Press file photo by Eric Fisher
By: 
Staff Report

    Sister Ann Ellen Quirk, BVM, who established the Kuzma Care Cottage and nurtured all of the benevolence that flows from its doors for decades, died Saturday, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa, at the age of 87.
    Sister Quirk entered the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1949. In 1952 she was assigned as a music teacher and a counselor at St. Rose Parochial School, where she began a small food pantry in her music room.
    In 1984, she established the Kuzma Care Cottage, which she served as executive director until her retirement in 2015. The cottage, with holiday assistance from the Christian Help Association, continues to provide food, clothes and shelter for hundreds of less fortunate families each year. Sister Ann Ellen has been called the "Mother Theresa of Wilmington" by many organizations and individuals who have honored her work.
    “I can’t think of anybody else in this town who wasn’t touched so much by Sister Ann Ellen’s work,” commented Sandy Hobbs, director of Kuzma Care Cottage. “She made it her life mission to help those who are less fortunate, which to this day still lives on.”
    Sister served St. Rose Parish as a pastoral associate and had been recognized by the state of Illinois, Catholic Charities, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, the Wilmington VFW, the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW, the Gleaners,  and the Wilmington Pastors Association.
    September 1999 was Sister Ann Ellen Quirk month in the city of Wilmington, which also named a portion of Main Street in her honor.  She is the last sister to serve the parish.
    Sister Ann Ellen’s obituary appears on page 5B. Although visitation, a sharing of memories and burial will take place in Dubuque, St. Rose Parish has scheduled a memorial service for Saturday, Oct. 20, at 11 a.m.
    Those who have been touched by Sister Ann Ellen’s giving spirit are encouraged to attend the St. Rose memorial and share their memories.