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Rosemary “Dee” Coyne: The Pivotal Role of Providence

Mike and Dee Coyne pose before the parlor at LeFer Hall. They were attending Dee’s 50th class reunion in 2009. (Submitted photo)

“My Catholic faith is central to my life. It is a precious gift that was nurtured by the Sisters of Providence and a gift which continues to be enriched by my experiences with them,” said Rosemary “Dee” Coyne of Naples, Fla.

Growing up in Syracuse, N.Y., Dee didn’t have any connection to the Congregation until she decided to attend Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. The only daughter of the late Dominic and Mary Cirando, Dee attended a Franciscan school from grade school to high school.

“My parents had a very deep faith and wanted their only child to be educated in that faith,” said Dee.

“In the course of looking at potential colleges, I requested a catalogue for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and was attracted to its beauty,” said Dee. “My parents and I visited the campus on a trip to inspect several colleges, and I was impressed by the sisters I met and by other prospective students. I met Agnes Piszczek and others from the Chicago area and felt at home from the moment my parents and I set foot on the campus,” continued Dee, whose father worked for the New York Central Railroad, making it quite convenient for Dee’s travels.

When the freshman class of 1955 arrived at the Woods in September, it was quickly discovered there were eight Rosemarys.

“The first night at dinner, we decided to go by other names. Since my middle name is Dolores, I was called Dee,” she said.

As Providence would have it, Dee graduated with a business major and English minor in June 1959, and one week later she met her future husband, John “Mike” Coyne, when a mutual friend arranged a blind date. Mike graduated with an English degree from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. In September 1960, Dee and Mike married and in January the couple moved to Alexandria, Va., where Mike worked for the federal government and attended evening classes at Georgetown Law School. Upon graduating in 1964, Mike served as a Marine Corps officer. Four years later, he practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Virginia while remaining in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Dee kept busy in her own right, working 27 years as a primary teacher in Fairfax County, Va. She still keeps in contact with many of her former charges.

Following Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s advice, I ‘loved the children first, then taught them.’ I was truly blessed with a fulfilling career as an educator of young children.
– Rosemary 'Dee' Coyne

“Following Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s advice, I ‘loved the children first, then taught them,’” quoted Dee. “I was truly blessed with a fulfilling career as an educator of young children.”

When Mike was promoted to major general in 1994, he decided to retire from his law firm and return to active duty in the Marines. In January 1998, Mike retired from the military. During these years of Mike’s military service, Dee, in addition to her teaching, volunteered countless hours to the Marine Corps Museum, then located in Washington, D.C., and the Home of the Commandant also in Washington, D.C.

In 2000, Dee and Mike left the hustle and bustle of the Washington, D.C., area and moved to Naples, Fla. There, Dee keeps busy volunteering at the Ave Maria University and the Ave Maria Law School. She also belongs to a local chapter of Ikebana International, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Dee and Mike are within walking distance of their parish church, Saint William.

“I believe that Providence has played and continues to play a pivotal role in my life — from choosing Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College over all the other Catholic women’s colleges that were available in the 1950s, to meeting my husband and for all the blessings I have had in my life. I feel all is due to Divine Providence,” said Dee, who attended the 2006 canonization of Saint Mother Theodore in Rome.

And Dee graciously shares the many blessings she has received with the Sisters of Providence. “I have supported the Congregation through annual contributions and in response to special appeals, and I have put them in my will,” said Dee. “I support them out of a sense of gratitude for what I received from them and my belief that they continue to faithfully carry out the mission of Saint Mother Theodore.”

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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