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Declared Her Independence on the Day She Was Born




When Patrice Kiefer was born her father said that she had declared her independence. Patrice was born on July 4th – 1923. Since then, she has tried to live each day of her 100 years to the fullest.

Life on the Farm

One of nine children, Patrice was born Leona Frances and grew up on a farm in North Dakota. Her rare 9 bedroom family home with running water was built by her father and allowed the children plenty of space.

At the age of 8, Patrice started milking cows, taking care of the animals, and helping her father with the farm’s bookkeeping and by handing out paychecks to the workers.

She and her siblings made the five mile ride to school in a horse drawn sleigh in the winter. They kept warm on the ride with heated rocks – one by their feet and one to hold.

Her parents’ generous and helpful natures set a guiding example early on for Patrice and her siblings.

Leaving Home

When ready for high school, Patrice left for a boarding school, never to return home. Upon graduation she entered a convent and took the religious name of Sister Mary Patrice.

Interested in health care administration, Sister Patrice went on to study at various universities over the years and held various hospital administrator positions until her retirement at the age of 80.

The Next Chapter

However, to Sister Patrice retirement has just been another opportunity to be of service. She asked herself three questions: Who am I? Where am I going? How am I going to reach that?

Five years after retiring, in 2018, Sister Patrice moved to a convent that is part of the Franciscan community. According to her, “Life isn’t just work – it’s interacting with people.” At the convent she’s had an opportunity to spend time with her fellow sisters. Being part of a community where she can support people is important to Sister Patrice. She is the only one of her siblings to live to 100, the rest passing in their 90s.


Her 100th birthday party was a festive gathering of family, friends, and community members. When asked ahead of time, Sister Patrice said she was looking forward to the opportunity to express her gratitude to the many people who had brought blessings into her life.

Sister Patrice is the first to tell you she’s led an interesting life. Want to read about how she and Hank Aaron crossed paths? Click here.



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