Mary Louise Vitale, 62, of Center City, former teacher and avid volunteer

Mary Louise Vitale
Mary Louise Vitale
Posted: March 08, 2013

Mary Louise Vitale, 62, of Center City, a former teacher and financial services worker who did volunteer work to help people affected by cancer, died Monday, March 4, of lung cancer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

After a career in education and financial services, Ms. Vitale served as a volunteer at the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia.

The organization, formerly known as the Wellness Community of Philadelphia, provides emotional and educational support for cancer patients and their loved ones.

In 2011, the organization gave Ms. Vitale its Medal of Courage for her many hours of volunteering amid her own eight-year battle with cancer.

Ms. Vitale "was a source of inspiration to people who were dealing with cancer," said Kathleen Coyne, acting executive director of the organization. "She actively lived her life, and she was a good model and example of how to keep on going."

In October, at the group's Celebration of Hope, an annual conference for cancer survivors and their loved ones, Ms. Vitale addressed about 350 people.

"She spoke about physical activity and fitness and the importance of being active," Coyne said. "She mostly spoke about her own experiences."

Ms. Vitale also volunteered many hours at Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Greater Philadelphia. The organization provides support services for children in the foster-care process.

As a court-appointed volunteer, Ms. Vitale worked closely with children and advised courts about the children's needs and wants.

Mary Louise Vitale was born March 12, 1950, in Biloxi, Miss., one of seven children of Hector Francis and Mary Virginia Vitale.

She was raised in Topsfield, Mass., where she graduated from high school in 1968. She received a bachelor's degree in education in 1972 from Keene (N.H.) State College.

After college, Ms. Vitale spent several years in education, working in Massachusetts with children with learning disabilities.

She later spent about 20 years working for financial-services companies in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Ms. Vitale came to Philadelphia in the mid-1990s to work for U.S. Trust, a financial-services company. She retired about five years ago, and continued her volunteer work until recently.

She was an avid reader and enjoyed cooking. She also enjoyed traveling to Europe, where on several trips she took art-history and cooking classes.

Ms. Vitale is survived by her mother; brothers Ralph and Tom; sisters Kathy, Meg, Beth Ripp, and Tina Strunk; and nieces and nephews.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, 12 Park St., Topsfield, Mass. A celebration of life in Philadelphia is being planned.

Contact Vernon Clark

at 215-854-5717 or


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