Alumni Profile

Aline Marie Gerber '42

To the Manor Sworn Sometimes God moves in ironic ways. Sister Aline Marie Gerber ’42 took a vow of poverty 50 years ago, yet here she is living in one of L.A.’s most opulent estates — the Doheny Mansion.

Don’t worry, Sister Aline Marie hasn’t fallen from grace. You might say the Gothic Renaissance residence is part of her calling. The 81-year-old nun is the primary caretaker of the Doheny Mansion, the jewel of the downtown campus of Mount St. Mary’s College, where the good sister taught languages for 45 years.
A proud alumna of “the last class to have graduation ceremonies in the Coliseum,” Sister Aline Marie retains close ties with USC. She still attends the occasional lecture at the nearby campus. And of course, there’s the Doheny connection: the 12,000-square-foot mansion whose care is in Sister Aline Marie’s hands was once the home of oil baron Edward Doheny, head of the same family for whom USC’s flagship Doheny Memorial Library is named.
The Doheny Mansion was donated to the Catholic Church in 1958 and later to Mount St. Mary’s College.

Sister Aline Marie’s work as caretaker isn’t so very far removed from that of Carrie Estelle Doheny, the lady of the manor for nearly 60 years. After all, this Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet learned the oil heiress’ likes and dislikes first-hand, having attended her picnics at the mansion as a novice in the 1940s.
Today, the nun keeps the mansion the way Mrs. Doheny would have wanted it: the marble Pompeian Room floors polished to a luster, the chairs handsomely upholstered, and the rugs without a fray.
“Taking care of the house was just part of living here,” says Sister Aline Marie, who took up residence in the mansion back in 1965. At the time, she shared the estate with 24 nuns. “But the responsibility [for maintaining it] eventually began to fall to a few people,” she says. “When they died or moved away, I took them on.”
She may spend her days amidst Siena marble pillars, bronzed gold-leaf friezes, antique furniture and priceless art objects, but Sister Aline Marie’s devotion to her faith’s traditions remains firm. She feels no material-istic attachment to the mansion as a physical place, she told the Los Angeles Times last November. “I could live anywhere.”





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