Virginia Sichta

VIRGINIA PAULINE CUNO SICHTA LANARK - Virginia Pauline Cuno Sichta passed on to the arms of her husband, Cliff, and other loved ones who had preceded her, including the mother she had not seen since she was one year old, while in Hospice care in the Freeport Memorial Hospital on February 2, 2014. She was born to John Brown Cuno and Margaret Macpherson Proctor Cuno on September 2nd, 1922, in Washington, DC - the fourth consecutive generation of her family to do so. Proud of her founding American heritage that traced direction to Jamestown and the Mayflower through the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, she was also the granddaughter of Theodor and Pauline Cuno, the latter of whom provided some of her rabble-rouser genes as the chairman of the first convention of the International Workers of the World at the Hague and, later, as one of the founders of Labor Day. Raised alternatively in Washington DC, Brookline, Massachusetts and Madison, she was an accomplished violinist and an even more accomplished coloratura soprano, as well as a member of the Madison West High School Tennis Team. She took those talents, first, to the University of Wisconsin and, after meeting her husband, Cliff, during a USO dance at Beverly Beach, Maryland, they married six weeks later on September 25, 1943, and took their mutual talents, including their love of the writings of Carl Sandburg and passion for civil rights (they were zealous on the issues of integration and gay rights long before it became fashionable), to the many places they lived following Cliff's walking tour of Europe sponsored by the U.S. Army as a private in the Infantry, from which he returned with two Bronze Stars and the scars of war shared by so many. While Cliff was in the Battle of the Bulge, Virginia's photo appeared, together with that of their first child, Clifford Joseph Sichta, Jr., on her lap, in the Washington Post, captioned with words that described the circumstances of the wives at home while their husbands were in harms way, including a since-treasured anvil paper weight given to Cliff by a man who had just been freed by his unit at Dachau. Following the great war, the first place they settled was the University of Illinois, where Cliff studied Agriculture on the GI Bill and Virginia gave birth to two more children, a son, Robert David, and their first daughter, Margaret Anne, while living in a GI-built Quonset Hut, cooking meals on a single hot plate, and taking in typing to help pay the bills. This was followed by moves to McNabb, Illinois, where their daughter, Susan Louise was born, Magnolia, Illinois where here children started school, and later, Lanark, Illinois, where Cliff served as the FFA Advisor and Virginia brought her musical and spiritual talents to the fore. She organized the first Band Boosters at the local high school, created a program that resulted in all children from sixth through 12th grade in band and chorus being able to attend Broadway road show musicals in Chicago, book fairs, band contests, concert series and, of course, as the soloist in demand for everything from funerals to church and civic events. For her efforts, she was recognized by being the first recipient of the PTA Lifetime Achievement Award by the then-Lanark, now-Eastland High School Parent Teachers Association. Education in every form was particularly core to her, and she and Cliff were rightly proud of the fact that all four of their children worked their way through and graduated from college, all of them achieving advanced degrees as well. Aside from her family, Virginia's greatest passion was the Lanark United Methodist Church, where she served on local and conference boards, committees and, of course, in the choir, while Cliff taught Sunday School, ushered, and served as Lay Leader. The two of them also made a point of what they called "bringing home strays," meaning if an interesting or important person was passing through, they found a way to their living room for coffee, tea and baked bread, with the latest Broadway show tunes, classical music or opera playing in the background. Those people included - more than once - Jesse Owens, Kenyan agriculturalist, Edmund Mukiri, and the late UMC Bishop, Edsel Ammons. But Virginia's greatest joy of all was her family, much of which was extended as, following the passing of her beloved Cliff on December 11, 1995, she became everybody's grandma as well as the unofficial greeter for the town, finding every new resident she could, and everyone she could think of at Christmas, with loaves of delicious bread which she personally delivered, door to door. Her Christmas letter and, when the Internet came along, her emails were legendary, both for their scope and numbers of recipients. None of which dampened her reputation as the proverbial little old lady in tennis shoes who would not tolerate intolerance in any form, and whose look on her face could quickly upbraid those who thought seeing other people as less than they were was acceptable. That family in which she always took great pride today includes her children, Cliff, Bob, Marge and Sue, and has extended to Bob's wife, Pia, Marge's husband, Jerry Misek, Sue's husband, Jim VerHage, their children, Maggie Kinnamon and her husband, Lou, Jessie Gilligan and her husband, John, Dr. Becky Proehl and her husband, Dr. Trent Proehl, Jeff Sichta and his wife, Kelly, and Joe Sichta and his wife, Kim, Christina Sichta and her special friend, Paolo Ameglio, Maria DePerro and her husband, Jonathan, David Misek and his wife, Amber, Dan Misek and his wife, Andrea, Mark Misek and his wife, Amber, Andrew VerHage, and Jana Carney and her husband, Brian. Her beloved grandchildren number at more than twenty-two and counting, and her great-grandchildren now burst forth as a handful that will grow as well, carrying her legacy to the next many generations. Virginia was preceded in passing by her beloved, Cliff, her parents, a sister, Nancy Cuno and a brother, John Cuno, the five of whom comprised their family orchestra of three violins, one cello and a piano forte while in Madison. They are playing together now, welcoming her with her favorite hymn, "For All the Saints." The Russell-Frank Funeral Home in Lanark in company with Schwarz Funeral Home in Freeport is assisting the family as, at her request, her remains will be cremated and scattered to share company with those of her beloved Cliff, into a woods owned and nurtured by her beloved daughter, Marge and her husband, Jerry in a private family ceremony this summer, following a memorial service and lunch at the United Methodist Church in Lanark, IL. The date is yet to be announced. Private condolences and online guestbook may be signed at

Funeral Home

Russell-Frank Funeral Home
111 N High St Lanark, IL 61046
(815) 493-6363

Published in The Journal-Standard from Feb. 5 to Feb. 6, 2014