When she was a girl, Corrine Hackenmueller of Robbinsdale wanted to become a Catholic missionary in China. While life got in the way of her plan, she made good on her promise to help people.
Hackenmueller, who helped found the Home of Peace Orphanage in southwestern India, died at 87 of leukemia on July 5 at her Robbinsdale home.
She was the youngest of 10 children, growing up on her family's farm, where her father had a cheese factory. After graduation from Lincoln High School in Osseo, Wis., in 1939, she attended what is now the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, studying voice.
In Minneapolis, she met Herb Hackenmueller, who cofounded Hackenmueller Meats in the early 1950s on W. Broadway Avenue. She also raised four children.
She helped many charities, even during the last years of her life, when she was fighting cancer.
In 1999, when the Rev. Thadeus Aravindathu was an assistant pastor at her church, the Church of the Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale, he was paid a visit by his former bishop, Jacob Manathodath, leader of the Palakkad Diocese in the state of Kerala in India.
Twin Cities parishioners, including Hackenmueller, asked how they could help the bishop's diocese. And he told them of an orphanage that housed 40 children in a home built for a family of five.
Hackenmueller sprang into action, raising funds and making presentations, writing letters and appearing on cable access television. She had never been a public speaker before, but she found her voice, said family members.
With the bishop in charge of construction, the orphanage opened its doors in 2004.
"She was so compassionate," said Aravindathu, who now leads the church of St. John Vianney in South St. Paul. "She opened her heart to all cultures."
Two years ago she visited the orphanage that is home to 60 girls, who called her Auntie.
She continued to provide funds for their education and stayed in touch with them.
Until recent years, she drove Hmong children who lived in Minneapolis to church in Robbinsdale, and for eight years until April, she helped Aravindathu in St. Paul.
"She took me under her wing," said Aravindathu. "'I consider her my American mom."
Among many Catholic causes, she helped Sharing and Caring Hands and the Missionaries of Charity.
At the family business, in the 1950s and 1960s, she made potato salad and bean dishes for the Hackenmueller Meats stores, owned by various family members, said her daughter, Jane Paulson of Crystal.
The whole family pitched in to make jars of potato salad and other deli items in her kitchen.
She also was the store's bookkeeper. She was a caterer, too, and during the 1970s into the 1980s, she worked fulltime for a medical clinic.
"She was always a lady that had to be doing something," said her daughter.
The Hackenmuellers sold the Broadway Avenue store in 1979. Her husband of 54 years died in 1997.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her sons, Robert of Elk River, Thomas of Blaine, and David of Plymouth; nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Services have been held.