Kathryn Duskey-Gemperle, Interview with Nathan Ellstrand, 2022


Kathryn Duskey-Gemperle, 2023 (Photo contributed by interviewee)

Interview Transcript


Kathryn Duskey-Gemperle, Interview with Nathan Ellstrand, 2022


Kathryn “Kathy” Duskey-Gemperle, Mundelein class of 1968, was interviewed by historian Nathan Ellstrand. Gemperle discusses how she enrolled at Mundelein College with the help of Mary Griffin (Mary Ignatia Griffin, BVM) who was a friend of her mother’s. She talks about her time living in Coffey Hall with a small group of people who stayed on campus 7 days a week instead of going home on the weekends. She talks about her decision to join the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) after three years and her time as a novice in Dubuque, Iowa. At Mundelein, Gemperle was active in the glee club, but devoted most of her time to working in the art studio and completing class assignments such as visiting local galleries. She discusses her time living in the Scholasticate (Wright Hall) when she returned to Mundelein to complete her degree as a BVM and remembers her time as a student teacher. Gemperle talks about how these experiences at Mundelein College influenced her long career as a teacher and her passion for providing good educational opportunities for all students.

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Date Created

August 9, 2022


Kathryn “Kathy” Duskey-Gemperle was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and was the oldest of four children. She attended St. Mary’s High School in Michigan City, Indiana before enrolling in Mundelein College in September 1962. Gemperle majored in Fine Arts and painting with minors in theology, English, and art history. In 1967, Gemperle left Mundelein College to join the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) in Dubuque, Iowa. In 1967, she returned to Mundelein College as a BVM to complete her degree, staying in the Scholasticate. Gemperle began her career with student teaching at Amundsen High School and, after graduating, worked at St. Mary’s High School on the West side of Chicago. In 1969, she decided to leave the BVMs. She continued her studies at Columbia College, earning a Master’s degree in interdisciplinary art. Gemperle continued to teach art and other subjects for over 40 years, with a focus on creating courses that were interdisciplinary and multicultural. In 1988, Gemperle founded the Edgewater Historical Society to involve the community in the research, documentation, collection and preservation of the history of the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago.

Interviewer Biography

Nathan Ellstrand holds a PhD in History from Loyola University Chicago. Ellstrand studies twentieth-century transnational political and religious history between the United States and Latin America. His recently finished dissertation is titled, “Reclaiming La Patria: Sinarquismo in the United States, 1936-1966,” which he plans on converting into a book.

Time Log

[0:00 - 5:00]
Gemperle’s family and educational background, choosing Mundelein, beginning college, and her decision to join and leave the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM).
[5:00 - 10:00]
Gemperle’s experience in the BVMs, her relationships, her training, her studies at Mundelein, her art major, courses she took, founding the Edgewater Historical Society, and the impact of art on her life.
[10:00 - 15:00]
Gemperle’s experience with Mundelein faculty, her glee club experience, living on campus, and weekenders in campus residence halls.
[15:00 - 20:00]
Gemperle’s roommates, living in Wright Hall, student teaching, teaching art, and interdisciplinary pedagogy.
[20:00 - 25:00]
Gemperle’s experience living in Wright Hall, the 1968 Democratic Convention, social activities, her job at the Loyola library, and studying art history.
[25:00 - 30:00]
Gemperle’s independent study, teaching Chinese art, her father’s education, Mundelein’s library and Piper Hall.
[30:00 - 35:00]
Gemperle’s urban education class, racial demographics of teaching, teaching at St. Mary’s, leading a field trip Miami, teaching pottery, and taking pottery classes.
[35:00 - 40:00]
Gemperle’s teaching experience at St. Greg’s, cooperative learning, teaching at Amundsen, and struggles she faced as a teacher.
[40:00 - 45:00]
Gemperle’s senior thesis, BVMs at Selma, and BVM activism.
[45:00 - 50:00]
Gemperle’s teaching experience, the Selma march, diversity in Chicago, diversity in the classroom and teaching diverse students.
[50:00 - 55:00]
Racial and ethnic demographics and relations in Gemperle’s teaching experience, the racial makeup of Mundelein, and teaching.
[55:00 - 60:00]
National events during Gemperle’s time as a student, the Edgewater Historical Society, civil rights, and activism.
[60:00 - 65:00]
Gemperle’s time in the convent, social unrest, visiting art exhibits as an art student, adjusting to the city, and buying a house.
[65:00 - 70:00]
Gemperle’s experience with the Archdiocese and gender dynamics in the Catholic education system, living on campus, activities outside of class, and the dress code at Mundelein.
[70:00 - 75:00]
Mundelein’s dress code, Vatican II, Mundelein’s institutional analysis, Gemperle’s mother’s education, and her sibling’s educations.
[75:00 - 80:00]
Gemperle’s experience teaching art, Sunday lunches on campus, going to Loyola for mass, living on the lakefront, changes on campus, and lasting impacts of her time at Mundelein.
[80:00 - 84:24]
Gemperle’s campaign to save mansions in Berger Park, creating the Edgewater Historical Society, and final thoughts.


Agnes Griffin (Sister), KG 0-5, KG 40-45,
Alfred University, KG 15-20,
Amundsen High School, KG 5-10, KG 35-40, KG 40-45,
Andersonville, Chicago, IL., KG 50-55,
Archdiocese of Chicago, KG 60-65,
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Gallagher, Blanche Marie (Sister), KG 10-15,
Huguelet, Adalbert, KG 10-15
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Kennedy, John F., KG 55-60,
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King Jr., Martin Luther, KG 55-60,
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Marshall Field’s, KG 60-65,
Marquette High School, KG 0-5,
Miami, FL., KG 30-35,
Michigan City, IN., KG 0-5, KG 5-10,
Mundelein College, KG 0-5, KG 5-10, KG 10-15, KG 15-20, KG 20-25, KG 25-30, KG 30-35, KG 40-45, KG 50-55, KG 55-60, KG 65-70, KG 70-75, KG 75-80, KG 80-85,
Mundelein College Coffey Hall, KG 10-15, KG 15-20, KG 20-25, KG 75-80,
Mundelein College Learning Resource Center, KG 25-30,
Mundelein College Philomena Hall KG 25-30,
Mundelein College Piper Hall, KG 25-30,
Mundelein College Scholasticate, KG 15-20,
Mundelein College Skyscraper Building, KG 25-30,
Mundelein College Wright Hall, KG 15-20, KG 20-25,
Myanmar (Burma), KG 50-55,
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), KG 10-15, KG 50-55,
Nepal, KG 50-55,
Netflix, KG 45-50,
Northeastern University, KG 30-35,
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Ontario, Canada, KG 60-65,
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Robert Crown Community Center, KG 25-30,
San Francisco, CA., KG 0-5,
Selma, AL., KG 40-45, KG 45-50, KG 50-55,
Shakespeare, William, KG 15-20, KG 35-40,
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St. Ignatius Church, KG 25-30,
St. Ignatius Grade School, KG 25-30,
St. Mary’s High School, KG 0-5, KG 5-10, KG 15-20, KG 20-25, KG 30-35, KG 60-65,
Sweden, KG 50-55,
Swedish American Museum, KG 50-55,
University of San Francisco, KG 70-75,
Vatican II, KG 70-75,
Western Springs, IN., KG 0-5,
William Pettus Bridge, KG 40-45,
Wilmette, IL., KG 25-30,
Women and Leadership Archives, KG 45-50, KG 55-60,


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