Sister Irene Kraus, founding president and chief executive officer of Daughters of Charity National Health System, died Aug. 21 of complications from cancer. She was 74.
Kraus held the top post at the St. Louis-based system from 1986 to 1992, when it grew to become a national powerhouse in the world of not-for-profit hospital systems.
Until recently, Kraus had served as administrator of St. Joseph's Provincial House in Emmitsburg, Md., the headquarters of the Daughters' southeast province.
Before her death, Kraus also had served as chairwoman of the board of Baptist/St. Vincent's Health System in Jacksonville, Fla., which includes two Daughters of Charity hospitals.
Kraus died in the sisters' living quarters of 565-bed St. Agnes Healthcare, Baltimore.
"During her long and dedicated life as a Daughter of Charity she touched the lives of many," wrote Daughters CEO Donald Brennan in a memo announcing Kraus' death. "Although we may not have all known her personally, her vision, vitality and contribution to all of healthcare will be a living legacy to the healing ministry."
Throughout most of her half century in healthcare, she was one of the industry's leading lights.
In 1980 Kraus became the first woman to chair the American Hospital Association's board of trustees.
She also was chairwoman of the board of the Catholic Health Association in 1972 and 1973.
In 1996 Kraus was inducted into MODERN HEALTHCARE's Health Care Hall of Fame (Feb. 26, 1996, p. 28).
Kraus took up the religious life as a Daughter of Charity in 1941 at the age of 17 after graduating from high school in Baltimore. Until 1949, Kraus taught high school and elementary school in Virginia, but then she asked to become part of the sisters' healthcare ministry.
In 1952, she graduated with a nursing degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, and from there her healthcare career was launched.