CONCORDIA – Although retired from a lifelong career as a nurse, Sister Susan Stoeber has not withdrawn from helping others by bringing them joy.
Sister Susan, known for her 45 years as a nurse at the Cloud County Health Center in Concordia, hasn’t let retirement stop her from giving back to the community and making people happy.
“I worked in the hospital here in (Concordia) for 45 years,” said Stoeber. “After graduating, I started here and stayed here.”
Lots of people know Sister Susan for what she does when she’s not working – crocheting quirky animals that are always in demand.
Thanks to her roommate, who she had as a nurse in Concordia, she learned to crochet and expanded her skills.
Sister Susan had lived with Sister Leah Smith and Sister Jackie Kircher since the 1980s. They both died, but the skills they taught live on with Sister Susan.
She also makes rosaries which, in addition to her crocheted animals, can also be found in the Nazareth Motherhouse Gift Shop.
âIt concerns me. I have to be busy all the time, âshe said.
Sister Susan said she started finding patterns on Pinterest. If it’s something as simple as a little teddy bear, she can make one in a day or two.
When is it more complicated?
“If it’s a new pattern now and it’s big, it can take a long time,” she said as she pulled out an intricate, large stuffed alpaca. âThat cost me forever. The first attempt was really difficult. It probably took me a week for the second attempt that I tried. “
Other popular designs she made were baskets of baby dolls with a complete wardrobe of crocheted clothes, different types of dinosaurs, and a crocheted “Baby Yoda” from the popular Disney + TV show “The Mandalorian”.
Crochet baby Yoda to help others
Her designs are usually in the Motherhouse Gift Shop, but she also shared them with Neighbor to Neighbor for their annual Holiday Boutique.
“I do a lot for N2N,” said Stoeber. “Last year we had a little truck that one of the boys made and I made all of the little animals that were in the back.”
She has a dinosaur group planned for the next time N2N can host one of their events in person.
Sister Susan also makes custom orders, including a group of 15 honeybees for a girls’ sports team.
âA girl asked me if I had ever made a Baby Yoda. I said no, but if I find a pattern I will. So I made her a Baby Yoda, “she said. “If you come to me and ask me, I’ll try to do it.”
Their Baby Yodas were bestsellers in the gift shop and annual plant sales.
She also donates her work to charity.
âI called the Cloud County Resource Center for a year and asked if she would like some of the little teddy bears and she was tickled pink. I took two tubs for them to give away for their Christmas programs, âshe said. “This year I asked and they didn’t do it because of COVID, so I took them to Neighbor to Neighbor and they gave it to all of the kids for theirs
Christmas packages. “
She is currently working on a pile of teddy bears for a group in Lindsborg that sends baskets to children in need abroad.
A nurse career
When Sister Susan started out as a nurse, the hospital did not have an intensive care unit, so she worked on the medical-surgical floor. Sister Susan graduated in 1970, and she moved there when the hospital opened intensive care in the 1970s. As technology advanced, it began to work between the two.
She said she was always excited about medical advances.
“We were a small hospital, but some of the new doctors there started new procedures and that was exciting and we got a lot of post-op patients,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in the meantime.”
However, retirement was a change for her.
“I miss it, that was all I knew,” said Stoeber.
She said she was hoping to make it 50 years in her career, but as computing requirements changed, it became too difficult to care for patients and use the technology.
When she’s not crocheting or driving the sisters to appointments, she runs the supply center for over-the-counter medicines, hygiene items and other basic needs and special requests for the sisters. She said she was trying to limit purchases to once a week, but demand was greater as more sisters had returned to the motherhouse since the pandemic.
Stoeber follows in the footsteps of Sister Charlotte Lutgen, who is also a retired nurse, who for years dealt with the purchase and distribution of consumables for the sisters and retired from this position in 2017, whereupon Stoeber took over the management.
âI shop, fill up and distribute. The nurses fill out slips of paper and then I pick up the orders, âSister Susan said. “Sister Charlotte continued to help as long as she could.”
The work is tough at times, but Stoeber said the job has its advantages.
âThe best part about coming here and being in this position is getting to know the sisters because as a nurse you don’t get into the motherhouse stuff a lot. I didn’t even come to many meetings because of work. So it means a lot to me to get to know the older sisters personally, âshe said. âAnd I think that’s the best part about it