Cover photo for Charlene M. Sisson's Obituary

Charlene M. Sisson

d. October 7, 2017

Charlene M. Sisson

Charlene M. Sisson 83, of Erie, died Saturday, October 7, 2017, following a short illness at the end of a two-year battle of wills with cancer. She remained active, independent and fiercely determined to the end.

A proud daughter and nearly lifelong resident of Erie's Little Italy neighborhood, Charlene was born Aug. 24, 1934, the only child of the late Josephine Vetter Sisson and stepdaughter of the late Louis Sisson.

Charlene was educated in Erie's Catholic schools and remained a stickler for the grammar and graces imparted by the religious sisters who were her early teachers. She was a legal secretary, working for several prominent Erie attorneys, including Jess S. Jiuliante, Sr. and John Wolford, as well as for the Erie City Solicitor's Office in the Tullio era. During a short but memorable time living in New York City, Charlene worked in the Park Avenue law office of the late Edward Ridley Finch, with whom she maintained a decades-long friendship. She retired from the City of Erie and is well-remembered for the engaging activities and trips she planned for Erie Center on Health & Aging participants. She loved to travel and told many great stories from her adventures.

A proud Italian-American, devout Catholic and staunch Democrat, Charlene devoted herself to political, charitable and arts-related causes for the benefit of her community. The many organizations she served included the Boys & Girls Club of Erie, International Institute, Sons of Italy, Wolves Club of Erie, Woman's Club of Erie and La Nuova Aurora Society, of which she was a life member. She previously served as secretary of the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network board and remained an active volunteer, taking great pleasure in reading to and hosting holiday parties for young children served by the organization. She also proudly served for several years as a publicist for the annual Italian Festival of St. Paul Catholic Church, her home parish, and further shared her heritage as a host of the Sunday morning radio show "Domenica Italiana."

Most of all, Charlene was a marvelous friend to many. Her circle reached across generations, religions, social status, races and other barriers that sadly limit lives less rich than Char's. She kept and shared her Italian-Catholic traditions around her diverse, crowded and lively table. She never missed a chance to get dressed "to the nines" for a party, political event, or in her younger years, gallery or theater opening. Gatherings in Erie will be far less glitzy and sparkling without the Downtown Diva.

In addition to her mother and stepfather, Charlene was preceded in death by her husband and the great love of her life, Dr. James Diodato; her beloved Rose "Aunt Dodo" and Uncle John Vetter; other extended family members; and far too many dearly missed friends.

She is survived by several cousins, including John Valentic (wife Loretta), who accompanied her to many difficult medical appointments, as well as a host of friends too numerous to name or count. They will remember their Char, their Cara, their Contessa fondly and with her own often-repeated words, "Didn't we have a grand time?"

Friends are invited to call at the John R. Orlando Funeral Home, Inc., 2122 Raspberry Street, on Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. and may attend a Service there on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass at Saint Paul RC Church, 1617 Walnut Street, at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Erie Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network, 425 W. 18th St., Erie, PA 16502; Great Lakes Hospice, 1700 Peach St. #244, Erie, PA 16501; or Erie Wolves Club, Den VIII, Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 3172, Erie, PA 16508.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Charlene M. Sisson, please visit our flower store.


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