Josephine Theresa (Russo) Guerre-Chaley, age 91 passed away peacefully at home on March 24, 2023. She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Prosper S. Guerre-Chaley, Jr. They wanted a large family so their children would never feel lonely, and they had seven children together.
Josephine, who preferred Jo, was born in Conshohocken, the daughter of John Augustus and Catherine Elizabeth (Tornetta) Russo. She grew up with her four younger siblings, the late Sara Grobaker (Jim) Galarus (Ron), Rosalie Venezia (Anthony), and twin brothers Frank Russo (Carolyn) and Gus Russo (Lorraine).
Jo was the beloved mother of Jo Anne Forman (Walter Cholawsky), Prosper S., Katie Rumpilla (Brian), Rachel Conrad (John), Paul (Marie Chendorain), Rosalie Clouser (Donald), and Martha Buda. We were blessed to have her as our Mom.
Jo loved being a grandmother and every one of her grandchildren was special to her, all 29 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild. Aunt Josie was also close to several of her nieces and nephews and their families.
Mom loved to cook and host our holidays, and other special occasion gatherings. Easter was always a special time, the house would be filled with family for two days, as we cooked and assembled the traditional family Easter meal “Pasta Congata”. We’d hard boil eggs and dye them with the kids, and then on Easter, we’d hide them outside for the after-dinner Easter Egg Hunt. Every child had to find their “name” egg and then was rewarded with a prize! We’ve had 36 of us at the table to share Easter Dinner. Christmas night the family crowd was even larger, and at the Family Reunion on Labor Day weekend, there could be over 70 of us. So many special memories, there was always room at her table and she warmly welcomed whoever came along with us.
In addition to being a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, she has actively helped people in need for most of her life.
Jo was the heart and soul of the Boyertown Multi-Service from its inception, until she retired in 1997. As the first executive director of the newly established Multi-Service in Boyertown, a position she held for 24 years, she increased the agency to 7 full time, 4 part time and over 500 volunteers. Meals on Wheels launched shortly after opening the agency, and next was the Food Pantry, now known as Preston’s Food Pantry. The agency continues to thrive today. She also led the development of the BACH house.
In 1986, she was the first woman to be chosen as Boyertown’s “Man of the Year”, and the last “Man” of the Year. She also served as a Judge of Elections in New Hanover for many years. Jo was an avid reader and a lifelong learner. After retirement, she took every History class MCCC offered. She traveled to Israel, Italy and Oberammergau to see the historic sites and was thrilled to be able to float in the Mediterranean.
She was a leader and volunteer for many community organizations: Boyertown’s Sister City program, traveling with locals on a mission to the sister city of Bogodukhov, Ukraine and hosting the women of that town in their home; founding President of the Swamp Creek Woman’s Club and the Swamp Creek Co-Op Nursey School; the March of Dimes; New Hanover election polls; New Hanover Historical Society. For 56 years, she was an active member of St Columbkill’s R.C. Church. Once homebound, she continued to read the weekly parish bulletin, watched mass on tv, and always had her rosary nearby. She taught all of us “God is Love” and made a point of helping others before serving herself.
Mom, Mommom, Gmom, Josie, Aunt Josie, Jo will be deeply missed by her 7 children and their spouses, grandchildren and all who knew her. Her memory will live on in the hearts of those she touched during her life.
Family & Friends are invited to join us as we celebrate a life well lived:
Friday, March 31 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Catagnus Funeral Home, 1020 E Philadelphia Ave, Gilbertsville PA.
Saturday, April 1, from 9- 9:45 a.m. at St. Columbkill’s Church, 200 Indian Spring Rd, Boyertown PA, with Mass following at 10:00 a.m.. Reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Jo’s name may be made to Boyertown Multi-Service, 200 West Spring St, Boyertown PA 19512. Please sign into the online guestbook here at CatagnusFuneralHomes.com.