Mary Louise Vitale of Philadelphia, passed away on March 4, 2013, at the age of 62, after a courageous eight year battle with cancer. Always a tireless advocate for others, Mary Lou did not let illness slow her down or lessen her zest for life. Mary Lou was honored by the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia in 2011 with the Medal of Courage for her countless hours of volunteerism and brave fight against cancer. When illness forced an early retirement from the financial services sector, Mary Lou simply turned her considerable intelligence, calm demeanor and focus toward helping children and other cancer survivors. The Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) of greater Philadelphia became central to her life as she volunteered thousands of hours advocating for, and supporting children in difficult family situations. Mary Lou also worked tirelessly as a volunteer for the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia | formerly the Wellness Community of Philadelphia. Over the years her ready smile, enthusiasm and positive outlook helped bolster scores of cancer survivors. Those who knew Mary Lou speak of her boundless energy and determination. She was not someone easily deterred and did not let major health issues define her, or dampen her devotion to family, friends and social causes. Mary Lou was a voracious reader and was well- known for her delight in cooking and her joy in exploring the world. Her last trip to Italy wiith her sisters was accomplished with her hallmark determination despite a host of illness-related challenges. Mary Lou was born in Biloxi, Mississippi on March 12 1950, to Mary Virginia (Pothier) Vitale and the late Hector Francis Vitale. One of seven children, Mary Lou was raised in Topsfield, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bishop Fenwick High School in 1968 and from Keene State College in 1972. She began her career in education, and spent several years working with children with learning disabilities. Mary Lou followed her teaching career with a move to financial services, where she held a number of executive positions with companies in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Mary Lou is survived by her mother Virginia of North Andover, Massachusetts and her six siblings: Ralph and Valerie Vitale of Boxford, Massachusetts, Tom and Susan Vitale of Phoenix, Arizona, Kathy Vitale of Walpole, Massachusetts, Meg Vitale and George Hall of Topsfield, Massachusetts, Beth and Bob Ripp of Boxford, Massachusetts and Tina and Steve Strunk of Topsfield, Massachusetts. She was also the devoted and much-loved aunt of Matthew, Kate and Brian Vitale, Ben and Jacqueline Hall, Annie and Katherine Ripp, Emma Vitale and Alec and Harry Strunk. A memorial service will be held on Saturday March 9th at 11:00 am, St Rose of Lima 12 Park Street, Topsfield, Ma. A celebration of Mary Lous life will be held in Philadelphia at a future date. Donations in Mary Lous memory may be made to Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia (CSCP), 4100 Chamounix Drive, Philadelphia PA 19131.
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Published in The Tri-Town Transcript from Mar. 6 to Mar. 13, 2013