CHICAGO — Jean Dolores Schmidt, who is affectionately known as Sister Jean, celebrated her 100th birthday Wednesday at Loyola University Chicago’s campus surrounded by hundreds who turned out for her celebration.
Sister Jean captured the hearts of many around the world during the Ramblers’ Final Four run last year during the NCAA tournament. But around Chicago, she has always been a treasure.
In a video tribute, sportscasters from Jim Nance to Dick Vitale to Joe Madden, all saying her story is their most favorite. Cardinal Blase Cupich put his bobble head next to hers saying hers is more popular than his.
Sister Jean says what makes her most happy in life is sharing her joy with others and being aware of the world around her.
“There are so many problems in the world today that we cant be walking around with our heads down and our eyes closed and our ears plugged,” she said.
As a child, birthdays for Sister Jean and her two younger brothers were special celebrations.
“My mom always let us choose own menu for the day. In the days of the depression, that didn’t happen very often. We all liked Chicken Fricassee, homemade noodles and pound cake. Mom made best pound cake, loaded with icing,” she said.
Aunts and uncles on her dad’s side lived to their mid 90s, but she is her family’s first centenarian.
So what’s Sister Jean’s secret?
“I eat well, I sleep well, and hopefully, I pray well. You have to learn to take care of yourself. I teach young men and women to take care of yourself because if you don’t, you’re not going to be any good to take care of anyone else,” she said.
According to Sister Jean, if people just said, “Good morning,” to 10 other people a day, like she does, the world would be a much better place.