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Charles Mario Magistro

1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Charles Mario Magistro Obituary
November 18, 1924 - April 21, 2016 Charles Mario Magistro, 91, of Claremont passed away on April 21, 2016. Charles was born to Michele Angelo and Maria Concetta (Sutera) Magistro in Glen Ridge, New Jersey on November 18, 1924. Charles, known as Carmelo to his Sicilian family, shared an indomitable spirit with his sister, Anita. They also shared a love of music -- she played the piano, he the violin. Charles spent his elementary and high school years preparing for a career in music. His teacher had been a pupil of Leopold Auer, renowned violinist, composer, and instructor. Upon graduation from high school, Charles was offered scholarships to the New England Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute. While World War II raged in the Pacific Theater, Charles entered the U.S. Navy in 1942. He was discharged in 1946 as a First Class Pharmacist's Mate. Charles subsequently enrolled in Pomona College in Claremont, while working part-time at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland where he met Mary Noël Etchart, a vibrant woman of French Basque descent, who was working as a pharmacist. The couple married in 1948, and then moved to New York, where Charles received his degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University in 1950. Soon thereafter, Charles and Noël returned to Southern California, where Charles took a position as a staff physical therapist at Casa Colina, founded in 1936 in response to the polio outbreak. In a hacienda-style house, the founders created a space to care for young children with polio, and teach them how to regain their mobility and self-esteem. In the process, the team developed breakthrough physical therapy modalities for these patients. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, himself a polio victim, applauded this groundbreaking work, referring to Casa Colina as "the Warm Springs of the West." While at Casa Colina, young Charles was credited with, and recognized for, implementing numerous techniques to improve the treatment of children with poliomyelitis, burns, and other debilitating musculoskeletal conditions. In 1954 Charles was recruited to develop the first hospital-based physical therapy program in the region at Pomona Valley Hospital, where he remained as the department's director until his retirement in 1989. He also participated in the development of similar physical therapy departments at San Antonio Community Hospital, Glendora Community Hospital, St. Bernadine's Hospital, and Goleta Valley Hospital. Throughout his distinguished career, Charles played an active role in the development of the profession of physical therapy and received many honors and awards for his contributions to the growing field. During a period of nearly five decades, he held several high-level appointments in both state and national professional associations, including serving as the President of the American Physical Therapy Association. Charles was among the original founders and directors of Chino Valley Bank, which was established in 1974 with the aim of creating a local financial institution that would serve small businesses in the Inland Empire. With dedication and integrity, Charles helped shape the success that became Citizens Business Bank, currently one of America's best-ranked banks. In 2002, Charles established the Magistro Family Foundation to support non-profit activities and organizations in the areas of education, health, and human services. Since its founding, and with the joint efforts of his wife and daughters, the charitable foundation has made annual donations to worthwhile causes. Charles never stopped cultivating his lifelong passion for classical music and opera. Ever the mentor, he is remembered for coaching his grandsons as they tackled intricate passages on the piano. "Stop! Now, play that again, and this time I want to hear those keys cry." Charles is survived by his wife of 67 years, Mary Noël, and their four daughters and their spouses: Paulette (Budd) Simpson of Juneau, AK; Elise (Joe) Baumgaertner of Claremont, CA; Andrea (Jon) Nadler of Santa Fe, NM; and Maria (Peter) Sherry of Nyack, NY as well as ten grandchildren (Kevin, and wife Carli, Ian and Erica Simpson; Julia, Michael, and Gabriel Baumgaertner; Roland and Ethan Nadler; Stella and Sofia Sherry) and great-grandson (Beckett Simpson). Charles' son and namesake, Charles (Chuck) Magistro, Jr., preceded Charles in death in 1985. A funeral Mass will be held on Monday, May 2 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Upland, followed by burial at Bellevue Memorial Park.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Apr. 28 to May 1, 2016
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