Sister Barbara Ann Gfeller, SNJM

(Sister Marion David)

November 14, 1926 – November 28, 2018

Sister Barbara Ann Gfeller, SNJM departed this life on November 28, 2018 at Marie-Rose Center at Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Sister Barbara celebrated 92 years of life and 68 years of her religious profession.

Her Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Thursday, December 13, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. at Chapel of the Holy Names, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Burial took place following the funeral at Holy Names Cemetery, Marylhurst, Oregon.

Sister Barbara Gfeller, SNJM

Sister Marion David

November 14, 1926 – November 28, 2018

Sister Barbara Gfeller (Sister Marion David), age 92, died at the Marie-Rose Center at Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst in Lake Oswego, November 28, 2018. A member of the Holy Names Sisters for 68 years, her funeral will be held at 11 a.m., December 13, 2018, in the Chapel of the Holy Names, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Daughter of Fred and Elizabeth Mettler Gfeller, Barbara grew up in Eastern Washington. In 1948 she entered the Sisters of the Holy Names at Marylhurst and received the name Sister Marion David. Her first assignment as a teacher was Holy Names Academy, Seattle.

From childhood Barbara evidenced an immensely curious mind and a fascination with science. She earned several degrees in science, which eventually culminated in a doctorate in Biology (Developmental Genetics) from the University of Oregon.

While studying at UO, Sister Barbara, then Sister Marion David and dressed in full habit, was interviewed by a reporter from the Eugene Register-Guard. The reporter observed that to some, a nun working in a genetics laboratory might seem unusual. But for Sister Barbara there was no contradiction between the two. “I am a nun and I am scientist,” she replied. “This is possible because both religion and science are supposed to be reaching toward the truth. If the two contradict each other, one must not be telling the truth.”

Sister Barbara had a long career in higher education in universities around the world, including Marylhurst College, Oregon; Bethlehem University, Israel; Heritage University, Toppenish, Washington; and the College of the Marshall Islands.  She embraced the challenge of “new beginnings.” Among these new beginnings was her return to Marylhurst Education Center to create the pioneering Prior Learning Experience program as well as her long distance moves to Bethlehem, Toppenish and the Marshall Islands. She remarked that such new beginnings were the kind of positions she found the most exciting.

Following her retirement, she lived until quite recently in The Dalles, Oregon, where she volunteered with St. Vincent DePaul, St. Mary’s School Library and Habitat for Humanity and actively participated in the Holy Names Associate program with members in The Dalles area.

Sister Barbara is survived by her sister and brother, Mary Stender, Cheney, Washington, and David Gfeller (Jo), Colfax, Washington, numerous nieces and nephews, and the members of her religious community. Remembrances may be made to Sisters of the Holy Names, P.O. Box 398, Marylhurst, OR 97036 or online at