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  December 25, 2008 Issue                                       

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Peter Cilio

Peter Cilio, 78, formerly of Chestnut Hill, founder of Campania International, a manufacturer, importer and wholesale distributor of garden accessories, died Dec. 16 at his home in Blue Bell after a long illness.

Mr. Cilio retired in 2000 as president of the firm that distributes its products throughout the United States and Canada from a manufacturing plant in Pennsburg.

In the 1970s, after realizing that handmade terra cotta pots from Italy were unavailable in the United States, he opened “Peter’s,” a garden center in Quakertown specializing in European style garden ornaments. The center still is owned and operated by the Cilio family.

Mr. Cilio was born in Ponte Romito, a small town in the Campania region of Italy. His childhood on the family farm was cut short with the advent of World War II and the German occupation of Southern Italy, when the Cilio’s house was requisitioned by the German command.

To escape the air raids, the family was forced to find shelter in the countryside, sleeping in caves until the Americans liberated Southern Italy. Upon graduation from high school in 1947, Mr. Cilio decided to escape the devastation of postwar Italy and join his father in Philadelphia. By 1950, the family had settled in Germantown.

During the Korean War, he was drafted into the American Army and served in Germany.  In 1953 he was named one of six outstanding soldiers of the U.S. Army Command in Europe.

He was married in 1955 and settled in Chestnut Hill, where he raised four children and ran a successful contracting business.

When he was not working at his garden center in Quakertown, he spent time at North Mowing, his farm in Springfield, Vt., and at Marco Island, Fla.

Mr. Cilio is survived by his wife, Ruth; sons Peter, Anthony and Joseph; a daughter, Nina Reelick, and seven grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Dec. 19 at Our Mother of Consolation Church.   Memorial contributions may be made to the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, 100 E. Northwestern Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118.


Helen M. Ansel

Helen M. Ansel, 82, of Chestnut Hill, died Dec. 11 at the Hill at Whitemarsh, where she had been recovering from a fall.

Mrs. Ansel had retired as an employee of Cooney Brothers Plumbing, a family business, and later worked as a retail salesperson at Strawbridge & Clothier Department Stores.

Born Helen M. Cooney in Germantown, she was the daughter of Francis and Marion Aubrey Cooney. She was a graduate of Little Flower High School.

Mrs. Ansel is survived by sons John, Robert, Richard and James; daughters M. Christine Claudius and Joan Pighini; a sister, Marion Cooney Sandman, and 12 grandchildren. Two brothers, William and John, preceded her in death.

A mass celebrating her life was held Dec. 15 at Our Mother of Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill. Interment was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, 630 Freedom Business Center, Suite 60, Third Floor, King of Prussia, PA 19406.


Barr Smith

Barr Smith, 84, a retired sales manager, died Dec. 18 of congestive heart failure at his home in Wyndmoor.

Mr. Smith was a longtime member of the Stagecrafters in Chestnut Hill and a member of the Philadelphia Cricket Club, where he was golf committee secretary for more than 40 years.

He was a member of St. Paul’s Church in Chestnut Hill and a volunteer at Chestnut Hill Hospital.

Mr. Smith attended Fessenden Academy in West Newton, Mass., and graduated from Governor Dummer Academy in South Byfield, Mass.

He is survived by his wife, the former Judith McCormick; sons Edward William Norwell Smith of Whitemarsh and Jonathan Barr Smith of Indiana, Pa., and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 27, at St. Paul’s Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Chestnut Hill Hospital, 8835 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118, or to the above-named church.


Carol Anne Sipe

Carol Anne Sipe, 62, a psychotherapist who practiced in Mt. Airy for 25 years, died Dec. 16 of ovarian cancer at her home.

Ms. Sipe specialized in working with artists in a variety of fields, other psychotherapists and people seeking to integrate spirituality and therapy.

She had also utilized her therapeutic and social work skills in a number of positions in the tri-state area. She had served as director of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Families for the State of Delaware, and earlier had been chief social worker for Parents Preparing for Parenthood, a West Philadelphia community mental health center, and director of counseling services for Family Service of Burlington County, N.J.

A committed Buddhist, Ms. Sipe spoke often of the joy and meaning she derived from her work, describing psychotherapy as “a process of seeing through the layers of our life stories, our belief systems, our emotional patterns, and reconnecting with our deeper selves and with our humanity.”

Born in Baltimore, Md., Ms. Sipe earned a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work.

She was a member of the National Association of Social Work and the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work.

She enjoyed bringing together groups of people with common interests in the Philadelphia area. She helped to start a local women’s support group, a Buddhist sangha (meeting group), a writing group, a reading group devoted to the works of Ken Wilbur, and a therapists’ book group. She was also involved in organizing the Weaver’s Way Co-op in Mt. Airy.

She is survived by a brother, Daniel Sipe of Merion Station, and a sister, Sarah (Sally) Sipe of Massillon, Ohio.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Germantown Friends Meeting, 47 W. Coulter St., in Germantown.

Memorial donations may be made to Keystone Hospice, 8765 Stenton Ave., Wyndmoor, PA 19038, or to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, 500 NC Spanish River Blvd, Suite 8, Boca Raton, FL 33431.