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HUEWE, Helen

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

HUEWE, Helen. (Remsen, IA, Oct. 1, 1935 ---Dubuque, IA, January 11, 2020). In 2009 Sister Helen Huewe, OSF received the FIRST CITIZEN AWARD from the TELEGRAPH HERALD. In the same year she was the recipient of the Divine Word College's Matthew 25 Award. In its article accompanying the First Citizen Award, the newspaper cited her leading role in "initiatives to improve the lives of Dubuque's most vulnerable residents--its poor, ill and the forgotten." She retired as CEO of what became MERCYONE DUBUQUE MEDICAL CENTER in 1997. In her retirement, she led efforts to create CRESCENT COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER and OPENING DOORS, the nonprofit organization operating MARIA HOUSE, TERESA SHELTER, and Francis Apartments in Dubuque. (1) She was a founding STEEPLE SQUARE board member. (2)

Sister Huewe's mother came from Dubuque and her grandparents lived on a farm near Holy Cross. One of her aunts was a Franciscan sister, and Huewe entered the Dubuque Franciscian Sisters in 1955.

After training as a nurse in Sioux City, she decided to enter religious life and joined the Sisters of Saint Francis. She received her religious training in Dubuque and worked as a nurses' aide at XAVIER HOSPITAL. She received her nursing degree from St. Ambrose College and Mercy Hospital, Davenport, in 1961, and returned to Xavier. (3)

In 1968 with a master's degree in hospital administration, Sister Huewe worked as an administrator at Xavier and then practiced nursing with the DUBUQUE VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION and the University Hospitals in Iowa City. (4) She returned to Xavier in 1974 as the head nurse of the surgical unit.

In 1982 when Xavier and Mercy consolidated, Sister Huewe was asked to take the administrative position of vice president of professional services. (5) She was named interim president of MERCY HEALTH CENTER in 1986 and was soon appointed president and chief executive officer. In November, 1996, she announced her retirement for October, 1997. (6)

Plans to provide transitional housing for women started in the fall of 1997. Sister Huewe was hired in 1998 as the program initiator for the program known as Opening Doors. In this role, she investigated other Iowa shelters and worked to find a place for the program. The latter was settled when she found St. Mary's convent. This became Maria House which opened on September 25, 2000. Teresa Shelter, temporary housing for homeless women, was opened in May 2006.

Efforts to establish a federally funded community health center had failed for years. Such locations offered a medical and dental center for uninsured and under-insured residents. According to other community leaders, Sister Huewe scheduled the first meeting that led to the formation of the Crescent Community Health Center. She has also been involved with Step By Step, a program to provide housing for persons with disabilities related to mobility.

In 2009 Sister Huewe was a member of the Stonehill Franciscan Services Board of Directors and the building committee for Mount St. Francis. The SISTERS OF THE THIRD ORDER OF ST. FRANCIS OF THE HOLY FAMILY (OSF) plan was to construct a modern, energy-efficient, well-planned complex to replace its fifty-year old infirmary, Holy Family Hall. She was a member of the LORAS COLLEGE Board of Regents, Project Concern Board of Directors, and former board of trustees chairwoman of the Iowa Hospital Association and the Iowa Health Reform Council. In recent years, she had championed efforts to improve the health care of the MARSHALLESE community and helped raise money for the renovation of Dubuque Paradise Church. (7)



1. Hogstrom, Erik, "Dubuque Loses 'A Driving Force,'" Telegraph Herald, January 13, 2020, p. 1A

2. Reese, Kayli, "Steeple Square's 'Incredible Journey' Completed," Telegraph Herald, November 25, 2021, p. 2A

3. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Mercy CEO Says It's Right Time to Pursue Other Interests," Telegraph Herald, September 20, 1997, p. 20. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19970920&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Huewe Plans to Step Down," Telegraph Herald, November 22, 1996, p. 1A

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Hogstrom