Filomena Lea
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Lea, Filomena When Filomena was a staff writer on the Milwaukee Sentinel in the 1950's, her editor was fascinated with her name and he asked her to write a first-person article about the importance of being Filomena. It was a story that drew national acclaim by Hearst Newspapers, and it was a story that continued throughout her life. Filomena's maiden name was Filomena Volpintesta. She was the daughter of Peter and Eva Volpintesta. Both of her parents immigrated to this country from Italy. The Sentinel, mind you, changed her name to Filomena Phillips so it could better fit a by-line on her stories in the paper's tight column format. Few remember Phillips, but none will forget Filomena. She was a student, a writer, a teacher, a dance instructor, a fashion model, an interior designer, a census taker, a wife, a mother. No job was too small for her or too big. Her fierce lust for life ended on Friday, July 25, 2014 at age 84. Filomena died at Lawlis Family Hospice after courageously battling an incurable brain cancer since last fall. Filomena, a resident of Glendale, is survived by Merlyn "Bud" Lea, her husband of 57 years and sons, Dean, Perry and his wife Dawn, her brother Frank Volpintesta and his wife Dolores and their daughter Sarah. Although her family moved from Milwaukee's third ward to Whitefish Bay in the 1940's, she preferred to attend Cathedral High School, which meant a long street-car ride every school day to and from the downtown Catholic School. That was nothing. Growing up as a youngster in a home where her folks spoke Italian, Filomena first attended a Polish school and then a German school where the native languages were spoken it wasn't until she was 12 years old and in the seventh grade that she finally attended an English-speaking school. If anything, it made her excel in speaking and writing perfect English. Her parents insisted on a higher education, and she enrolled at Marquette University. She graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in journalism. Years later, she obtained a bachelor of art degree from Mount Mary College. She joined the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1953 and worked in the women's department as club editor and also wrote interior design column for the home section along with feature articles. It was at the Sentinel the Filomena met her future husband, Bud Lea. It was a time office romances were frowned upon, but this one grew despite the fact Filomena worked days and Bud worked nights and weekends in the sports department. In 1957, they were married and had two sons, Dean in 1958 and Perry in 1968. She never was much of a sports enthusiast but had a personal relationship with Vince Lombardi and his wife, Marie. Filomena met Lombardi when she was on an assignment for the Sentinel in Green Bay to cover a women's convention. Unannounced, she visited the Green Bay Packers downtown office and introduced herself to the Packers coach. It was the day Paul Hornung was suspended by the NFL for gambling on games. Lombardi used the occasion to take Filomena to a very long lunch so he would not have to answer the deluge of media requests for his reaction to losing his favorite player. Filomena was a workaholic. While working at the Sentinel, she also taught ballroom dancing at Fred Astaire dance studio and was a councilor at Junior Achievement, helping young people start a business. She worked in public relations for Manpower. WISN radio, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering and she taught English and interior design at Patricia Stevens Career College. After leaving the Sentinel in 1966, she started her own business and called it Designed Interiors. She did model homes for several prominent Milwaukee-area builders, a new career that would last 27 years. Filomena loved teaching. She taught creative writing to senior groups at Whitefish Bay and West Allis, and she was an English instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She also was a member of Allied Writers of Milwaukee. She had an enormous appetite for reading, not only many newspaper and magazines, but also fiction and nonfiction which included topics of concern to young and old. "I always wanted to learn more," she would say as newspapers, periodicals and books arrived daily in the mail box. Despite being diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor, she was determined to meet with her Mequon MATC class last October. With the aid of a walker, she met with her students for the last time and told them about her illness and how determined she was to beat the overwhelming odds and how important it was for them to achieve their goals. One by one, the young students walked up and warmly hugged her. Visitation for Filomena will be held at the FUNERAL HOME, on Monday, July 28 from 4 to 7 PM and at ST MONICA CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5601 N Santa Monica Blvd in Whitefish Bay, on Tuesday July 29 at 10:00 AM with the Mass of Christian Burial beginning at 11:00 AM. The interment will be on Wednesday, July 30 at 10:00 AM, at St. Mary of the Hill Parish Cemetery, at the corner of State Hwy 167 and Washington County Hwy CC in Richfield. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Cancer Centers at Columbia St. Mary's Hospital and Froedtert Memorial Hospital, the Joan of Arc Chapel on the Marquette University Campus, and to homeless U.S. Veterans. "There was no one quite like Filomena"

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Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Jul. 27, 2014.
10:00 - 11:00 AM
Mass of Christian Burial
11:00 AM
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10 entries
October 24, 2014
RIP Aunt Filomena..
You don't know how much I enjoyed our phone conversations about our LoCelso family history..
I learned so much from you.??
Wish I would have talked to you more & visited with you in person..
I'm hoping we'll all be reunited in Heaven one day.??????
Love, Cristina LoCelso
Cristina LoCelso
July 29, 2014
God Bless and Keep you always.

frank tarantino.
July 28, 2014
Sorry for your loss...she ruled the hallways and her classroom at MATC. She was fierce....and an inspiration to everyone she meant...
Jeannine Rivers
July 28, 2014
I was in one of Filomena's writing classes. I loved it and her so much that I took the class for over ten years! She was, and still is, one those unique individuals who will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace, Dear Filomena.
Ellen Palmqvist
July 28, 2014
Uncle Bud, I am so sorry for your loss. "Aunt Foo" was such a pleasure and joy to Mike when he was younger, always laughing and smiling when he was around her. We will miss her terribly and our thought and prayers are with you.

Mara & Mike Nugent
July 28, 2014
Very sorry to learn of your loss. You are one of the good guys and I will be thinking about you and praying for you and your family. Since I retired from the Packer Exec Comm, I miss seeing you.
Best regards,
John Underwood
July 27, 2014
Filomena was a graduate student in a class I taught at Mt. Mary called Life and Loss. I enjoyed every minute of our discussions! She was so interested in everything and so anxious to listen to everyone's ideas as well as share her own. I especially remember her telling about her adventures when one of her sons attended UWM. I send my sympathy to her family. I'm sure this is a huge loss. Hopefully your many wonderful memories will help you through these difficult days. Sherry Power
July 27, 2014
It was a pleasure to meet and take care of Filomena!
July 27, 2014
Wow! What a life! We should all follow her example. God bless this family in their time of sorrow.
louise wisinski
July 27, 2014
His blessings upon Filomena upon her arrival at His home. May His strength enrich Bud and The Family Lea in this their time of sorrow. Sincere condolences to you and your family, Bud.
Shawn Mulhern
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