Linda Lou Maltby with her two daughters. (Submitted photo)

 Linda Lou Maltby’s relationship with Catholicism started in a rural West Virginia “holler,” where the Baptist-born little girl was shown her first holy card by a playmate.

— Born in West Virginia, she moved to Florida at the age of 10 and then to Wisconsin when she married husband Kent, who passed away in 2018.

— She is a retired dental hygienist who has been a St. Clare parishioner for over 30 years.

— She and Kent were married on Dec. 28, 1970, and together had five children; their 15th grandchild was just born this month.

— A tea lover, she enjoys photography, quilting and sewing.



You were raised Southern Baptist and later baptized into the Presbyterian Church. How did the Blessed Mother bring you to the Catholic Church?

Nothing happens by accident. In West Virginia, we lived way out in the country and I had a close friend who lived down the holler. He would come up and play with me because he was Catholic and I was not allowed to go to his house. One day, he brought me something that looked like two baseball cards, with a picture of a man I knew — “Hey, that’s Jesus” — and a beautiful woman. I didn’t quite know who she was. He tells me, “Well, that’s Jesus’ mom.” I kept these little cards in my treasure box. Once I met Kent and started going to Mass, I saw the picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus — those two little holy cards I first saw back in West Virginia. So Mary had hold of me way back then, and that’s the truth.


And she’s really remained present throughout the rest of your faith journey, hasn’t she?

Through a priest that Kent knew, I received enough instruction to have my First Communion on July 16, 1972 — the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I wasn’t aware of that at the time. I was confirmed in 1984 and in the 80s I started learning a lot about Mary and felt very drawn to her. I made the consecration to Mary at Holy Hill. I can remember at that time wanting to know more about Jesus; well, he showed me his mother, which led to my consecration, and she, in turn, points right back to her son.


You sacristan for weekday morning Mass — what do you like about that involvement at your parish?

The thing I like about the sacristy work is it’s kind of behind-the-scenes. It’s not in the forefront. By becoming a sacristan and starting to understand more deeply liturgy, the flow of liturgy, what it means and how it works — that’s what the sacristy work has done for me. You’re a little bit like a porter. You’re kind of like a doorkeeper.


What is the best advice you have ever been given?

It was from my father. He was a typical quiet Southern gentleman. When I was in high school he told me — he called me “Bugsy” — and he said, “Bugsy, I don’t care what you do, but you gotta go on beyond high school because you never know at what point you may have to put food on a table.” And he also said, “I don’t care what you do but make sure you like what you do.”


What did you like about being a dental hygienist?

It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I like detail and, of course, with dental hygiene, it’s pretty detailed — you hope, that’s the main goal. But it’s also a form of healthcare. My mother was a registered nurse but I knew that nursing wasn’t what I wanted to go into. I was drawn to the dental hygiene.


Tell us about the extensive traveling you and Kent did after you both retired, and how that ties in with your passion for photography.

They were simple trips. The kids gave me a hard time and said we were motel campers — well, you know what? It worked. We were able to do three or four major trips over 10,000 miles each. We drove Alaska twice. We used the Alaska Marine Highway (the government-operated ferry system). We learned very quickly how you drive on these incredible means of transportation for the Alaskan people. These are not cruises. You use the system that the people in Alaska use. And it’s a whole different world, but we got to see how the people of Alaska live. I was an incredible experience.


What would you say to your friend Chris, who gave you those holy cards, if you could see him again?

I do believe I will see him again, probably not on earth, but in our heavenly home. I want him to know that the small mustard seed he planted in my heart, years ago, did take root. It has grown, and by God’s grace will continue to grow, until my life here has ended. Those two holy cards were an incredible gift.