Sister Lois was born Dec. 30, 1924, in St. Louis, one of four children of Mary (Brune) and Frank X. Zeis. She was baptized Irene Ann Zeis on Jan. 11, 1925. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with minors in English and philosophy, from Webster College (now University) in Webster Groves, Mo., in 1946, and began teaching at a Catholic high school in St. Louis.
In 1947, she entered the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. She was received into the Loretto Novitiate Aug. 15 of that same year, taking the religious name of Sister Mary Lois. Sister Lois made her first vows Dec. 8, 1949, and her final vows Aug. 15, 1953. She earned master’s degrees from St. Louis University in education in 1963 and in social work in 1974. She also earned a master’s in biology from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in 1970.
Her master’s in social work allowed Sister Lois to combine social service work in health care with classroom teaching at Loretto Academy in El Paso. Sister Lois lived and worked in El Paso for 30 years. She first taught at St. Joseph’s Academy from 1950 to 1952. From 1966 to 1971 she taught high school students at Loretto Academy. Sister Lois worked in the social service department of Hotel Dieu Hospital from 1974 to 1975. She was a social worker consultant at St. Joseph’s Hospital from 1976 to 1977. In addition, from 1976 to 1988 she again taught at Loretto Academy, where from 1977 to 1988 she was chairwoman of the social studies department and an American history teacher. From 1988 to 1991, she served the academy’s Loretto Community as a driver, and from 1991 to 1998 she was the Loretto Community’s health care facilitator in El Paso. Sister Lois retired in 1999, carrying out community service in El Paso through 2003.
Elsewhere, Sister Lois taught for 12 years at Bishop Toolen High School in Mobile, Ala. She also taught for a year in the St. Louis Archdiocese and performed community service while residing at the St. Louis Loretto Center in Webster Groves from 2004 to 2012. Earlier in her ministry, Sister Lois taught at Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Mo., from 1956 to 1958 and taught one semester at Our Lady of Sorrows High School in Bernalillo, N.M., in 1950.
Sister Lois moved to Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary in 2012, where she carried out a ministry of prayer and presence until her death. She donated her body to the University of Louisville (Ky.) medical school. Sister Lois was preceded in death by her parents and one of her siblings, Sister Rita Zeis SSND. She is survived by her brother, Larry Zeis of Durham, N.H., and her sister, Mildred Henze of Hadley, Mass. Memorials in Sister Lois’s name may be sent to the Loretto Community, care of the Loretto Development Office, 4000 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80123-1308.