Mary Calisti, 77, a longtime resident of Odell, Ore., passed away peacefully in her home on Saturday, June 13, 2015, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Mary was born on July 19, 1937, in Lumberport, W.V., to Filippo and Felumena Calisti and grew up in West Virginia. At age 18 Mary left home and started a new adventure in California where she attended college and joined the Naval Reserve as a hospital corpsman.
In 1974 Mary arrived to Hood River in her white Triumph sports car (complete with flowing scarf) and joined Hjalmer Lofstrom to start the first Respiratory Care Department at Hood River Memorial Hospital. She settled quickly adding her professional skills to the hospital medical staff including Docs Eddy, Wells, Thompson and Wade and nurses Eddie and Ruth. She loved knowing not just the patients but also their families who would trade her pie recipes. No doubt there are a few still around who remember her. It is here where she found her happy place, welcoming many friends, family and frequently offering her special lasagna.
After leaving the hospital she began a 15-year career at Luhr Jensen and while there, as always, gained many new friends. Mary was a gifted artist, avid gardener, fabulous cook, and hostess extraordinaire. Mary used her talents to create a home and garden that has been described by many who know her as a sanctuary. One of her greatest joys was to see others enjoy her beautiful surroundings. Mary welcomed foster children into her home and “adopted” her friends as family who came to visit over the 40-some years she lived in the area to stay with her at her small house in Odell. She was proud of her vegetable garden, her tomato sauce and proudly displayed every gift she received forever. But home wasn’t home to her without the pond she built and the fish that lived there.
Mary’s influence extended to the children of her dear friends, Patricia and Jacqueline, who grew up calling her Aunt Mary and were blessed by her unconditional love. No sketch of Mary’s life would be complete without mentioning her string of beloved Old English Sheepdogs including Poo Bear, Sneakers, Hawkeye and Maggie.
Mary is survived by one brother, Lou Calisti, of Anaheim, Calif., and a beloved nephew, Don Fader, of Hood River; as well as several other nieces and nephews. Mary is also survived by dear friends Patricia and Scott Hansen, Hjalmer Loftstrom, Nancy Bartley, Carol Packer, and neighbor Paul Blumenstein. Aunt Mary will be missed by Don Simons, Natalie Kremer, Rich Simons, Michelle Barlow, Lance Mauer and many others too numerous to list.
Mary was preceded in death by brothers Al, Joe and Cal, and sister Josie.
At Mary’s request no public service will be held. The family will observe a private memorial in conjunction with the placement of her ashes next to those of her sister. In honor of Mary’s love of entertaining and feeding people, an open house will be held at her home (3135 Wy’east Road) on Saturday, June 20, starting at 1 p.m. for those wishing to attend.
Special thanks to Providence Hospice of the Gorge and Hood River Care Center for providing excellent care in her final days.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River, OR 97031; 541-386-1000. Please visit andersonstributecenter.com to leave a note of condolence for family.
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