Every Life is Precious

A woman with Down Syndrome and her motherDawn Dietrich was a gift to all who knew her. She was the only child of a mother who taught her the true meaning of love and self-sacrifice. Dawn was born with Down Syndrome and her mother, Judi Black, was her constant advocate insuring that her needs were always met. Judi spent every bit of her energy to provide Dawn with the best care possible leading to her placement at St. Louis Center in November 2006.

Throughout her years as a resident of SLC, she taught others around her what it means to love. She loved music, her friends (who were known as her ‘soul sisters’), and she especially loved her ‘Mama Judi.’

Dawn’s ‘soul sister,’ Lisa, truly understood Dawn and was often around to help cheer her up if a cup of coffee didn’t do the trick.

Lisa said, “She was my sister and I totally loved her.”

Mama Judi Departs

Judi made it her dying wish that Dawn would be able to live the rest of her life at SLC. She died in 2016, and her sister Karen McGrath eventually became Dawn’s legal guardian. Karen and her daughter Kelly Nickell took up the challenge of overseeing Dawn’s care and did what they could to assist with SLC fundraising efforts. They created and donated countless gift baskets to the annual Fall Dinner Auction.
Sadly, Karen passed away on October 28, 2021 leaving a legacy of love and devotion to Kelly.

The Next Stage

Dawn’s own health had become fragile over the past couple of years and on November 30, 2021 she too passed away. Judi’s dying wish, however, had been fulfilled. Dawn remained at SLC until her death.
Fr. Enzo Addari, SdC was the main celebrant and homilist for her funeral Mass on December 19, 2021. The residents solemnly gathered to pay tribute to their dear friend. In his homily, Fr. Enzo reminded the residents that Dawn had taught them how to love and have patience with one another and that she will be happily waiting to see them again in heaven.

“We will miss her so much. She will see that God is good to us and that God always loves us.” – Lisa, at Dawn’s funeral

Her cousin Kelly prepared memorial cards so that Dawn’s friends would have a little memento of her.

If Dawn’s story, or any other stories in the St. Louis Spirit Winter 2022 Newsletter inspire you, please consider a gift of any amount to the Center. Note that when you give in Memory or in Tribute of a special person or event, St. Louis Center will send a letter to the honoree or family to notify them of your gift. Learn more here, or submit a donation using the online form below.