Published April 28, 2011
Sister Mary Brian Anderson, a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, who was a nurse and administrator of several health care institutions in Baltimore and Atlanta, died April 16 at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Baltimore. She was 87.
Born in Madison, Lillian Anderson was the daughter of the late Allen J. and Odessa W. Anderson. Her family members were evangelical Christians. She attended Saint Joseph’s Infirmary School of Nursing in Atlanta and was influenced greatly by the Sisters of Mercy with whom she worked. Eventually she chose to convert to Catholicism, later deciding to become a Sister of Mercy. She was “thrilled” when she was accepted into the community of the Sisters of Mercy.
Sister Brian received her R.N. at Saint Joseph’s in Atlanta, her bachelor of science degree in nursing at Mount St. Agnes College in Baltimore, and her graduate degree in hospital administration at St. Louis University, Mo. She loved nursing above all, but her leadership abilities led to her accepting administrative roles at Mercy hospitals in Atlanta, Savannah and Baltimore.
Sister Brian served as the president and administrator of Saint Joseph’s Hospital when it was in downtown Atlanta. Under her leadership the hospital was moved in 1978 to its present location on Peachtree Dunwoody Road in North Atlanta, where it began a pivotal and successful era in expanding health care across metro Atlanta. She also served on the board of Saint Joseph’s Health System and at the time of her death was an emeritus member of the board.
Her niece, Anita Hurst, a nurse at Saint Joseph’s Health System in Atlanta, said that Sister Mary Brian played a “pivotal role in my life and career. She was to me a mentor and someone I always looked up to with awe and admiration. She achieved so much.”
Friends of Sister Brian remember her as a person who laughed easily and was eager to “get on with life.” Even during her declining years, when some older sisters found the rapid changes occurring in religious life difficult, she said, “(It’s) a lifesaving venture. It’s the only way we are going to stay longer as a group of visionaries.” In her practical way, she cautioned, “Don’t put the brakes on too much. Be cautious, but move ahead.”
In addition to her niece, Sister Mary Brian is survived by her brother, A. John Anderson, and her other niece, Anne Petherick, all of Georgia.
The funeral Mass was to be celebrated on Wednesday, April 27, at The Villa Chapel in Baltimore, with interment following at Woodlawn Cemetery.