Sister M. Melanie Courenay RSM

March 29, 1921 - December 20, 2015

Obituary & Service Info

Sister M. Melanie Courenay RSM

 Sister Mary Melanie Courtenay, RSM


Sister Melanie Courtenay, RSM went to her eternal reward on Sunday, December 20, 2015.


Born Lucy Martin Courtenay in Gainesville, GA on March 29, 1921 to Ignatius L. Courtenay and Faraba (Snow) Courtenay, their fourth child and only daughter.


At age 20, Sister Melanie entered the Sisters of Mercy on September 7, 1940. She professed her final vows on August 16, 1946.


She excelled in the field of nursing and hospital administration. She began her medical career at the Mercy Hospital Convent in Baltimore, MD. In the following years, she worked diligently and became the Nurse Supervisor in the Martin de Porres Hospital in Mobile, AL; St. Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah, and Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, MD. She earned a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1963 and a certificate of participation in Cornell University’s Hospital Administrators Development Program. Later in her career became a hospital administrator at Mercy Hospital in Atlanta and later in Johnstown, PA. While at St. Joseph’s, Sr. Melanie initiated the Pastoral Care program for the spiritual care of the patients.


During her leadership as administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, the hospital was racially integrated. “It was a marvelous experience.” She often recalled the time when Martin Luther King, Jr. was a patient at the hospital. She stood up to the FBI agents who wanted to get at his medical records.


After this assignment, Sister Melanie worked at the Peachwood Parkwood Hospital in Atlanta, GA. Shortly thereafter Sister Melanie began a career teaching nursing as an Associate Professor at Georgia State University. Later she worked at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Atlanta, GA, a position she greatly enjoyed. She rounded out her professional career as the administrator for Mercy Convent in Savannah, GA.


A humble, gentle, quiet women said: “I never had regrets for my decision (to enter the convent). I did it to serve God and help my neighbors to make the world a better place.” Her ring motto is:”I live not now I, but Christ lives in me.”
In 2006 Sr. Melanie retired to Mercy Convent in Savannah. Sister attended mass daily and in her free time enjoyed solitaire on her computer, playing cards, and archiving her family’s history and photos.


Sister Melanie was preceded in death by her parents, and brothers, John C. Courtenay, Richard J. Courtenay, and Edward Courtenay. She is survived by her religious Sisters of Mercy Community, John (Jack) C. Courtenay, Jr., Kingston, WA, nephew; nieces, Jane Courtenay Shockley, Gainesville, GA.; Linda C. Courtenay, Yulee, FL., a great niece and 4 great nephews, numerous Courtenay, Harms, and Fennell cousins, Sr. M. Susan Harms, RSM, cousin and dear friend, Sr. M. Assunta Desposito, RSM.


Visitation will be held on Tuesday, December 22 from 5-7 pm with the Rosary at 6:00pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Frances Cabrini Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 11:00am, with burial in the Catholic Cemetery.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mercy Convent, 11801 McAuley Dr., Savannah, GA 31419


Fairhaven Funeral Home
Hubert C. Baker Chapel
912-927-1999
www.bonaventurefh.com