Get well soon, Sister Joel!

    If it seems like something – or more precisely someone – has been missing in Milwaukee lately, I know exactly whom it is.

    Sister Joel Read, former president of Alverno College, suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve, one day after she had undergone successful heart bypass surgery. She has been hospitalized ever since.

    Contacted by phone Monday, Sister Joel told me, "My whole left side is no good."

    For those of you who know Sister Joel, take comfort in knowing she is speaking as eloquently and with as much purpose as ever.

    I count the fact that my life’s path crossed Sister Joel’s path as one of my life’s true blessings. We became friends as we worked together on the committee that formed the College Readiness 21 Program for the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges.

    Sister Joel, a nationally renowned educator, wears many hats in this town. She’s co-chair of the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Education Committee, where the folks at the GMC will freely tell you she’s the moral compass in the room. The lady does not know how to mince her words, and she does not hide her lantern under a blanket. You know precisely what Sister Joel is thinking about any topic you are discussing with her.

    In fact, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. chief executive Ed Zore, outgoing GMC chairman, jokingly acknowledged Monday that Sister Joel had recently "rapped (his) knuckles" about an education issue of some sort.

    Zore then read aloud a message from Sister Joel to members at the GMC’s annual meeting. I asked Sister Joel for permission to share that letter with our readers, many of whom will no doubt be interested in her progress.

    "Sure go ahead. I need all the prayers I can get. The wider my prayer chain, the better off I will be," came the reply.

    So, here is the message Sister Joel sent to the GMC members:
    "I would like you to know that your cards, visits and thoughtful gifts really brightened those early days for me and encouraged me on the long journey that I am on to regain my independence. I would also like you to know that I am making progress on this journey. Each day, the left side, which the stroke rendered unusable, has begun to show signs of returning to life. Please do not stop praying for me. I have only just begun. Thanks a million for your support."

    Get well soon, my friend. Milwaukee needs you!

    Steve Jagler is executive editor BizTimes Milwaukee. For additional information, Sister Joel Read wrote a Milwaukee Biz Blog last year, making the point that we all have a stake in the fate of the children at Milwaukee Public Schools. If you have any thoughts you would like to be passed along to Sister Joel, send an e-mail to

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