Her thank-you notes were like finely crafted pieces of literature. Those who gave her gifts would always receive such a note, about 12 months later.

It was one of those little eccentricities that made Joanne Morris Comar very special, says Mary McKenzie, who knew her for 30 years. "She wanted every word in there to be true and come straight from her heart," says McKenzie, who adds she thought of Comar as a sister. "She had a whimsical, dreamy quality about her. It was just like she had this warm light that always shone."

Comar, who was born July 12, 1935, and died Feb. 25, was dedicated to her faith, and not just on Sundays. She was recognized with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal, the highest honor the Catholic Church awards to a lay person, for her church work.

During her funeral Mass, Msgr. James Carter of Christ Our King called her a "gentle, unassuming but determined person."

Comar, who received a bachelor's degree in classics from the College of Charleston in 1956, was valuable to those in the diocese as a Latin translator, McKenzie says. Comar wrote letters for then-Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler, for whom she worked, and they sounded like prayers, McKenzie says. She also worked for Bishop David Thompson, who nominated her for the papal recognition.

Comar served the church and the broader community through numerous organizations, including East Cooper Community Outreach.

Comar also had a sweet sense of humor, McKenzie says.

"She and her husband (the late Ernest Comar) found a turtle no bigger than a 50-cent coin and raised it. He was basically voice-activated. If he heard her voice, he would go to her."

Both Carter and McKenzie mentioned that Comar had a Christmas tree she never took down. Others found new reasons to enjoy the tree as she changed the decorations to mark different observances in the more than 30 years it stood.

"She was a Charlestonian, and as such was entitled to a few ticks and eccentricities," Carter's homily says.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at wminis@postandcourier.com.