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Trisha Stanionis, devoted sister, loyal friend, favorite aunt, outrageous colleague, fierce advocate, fearless leader, and faithful parishioner, passed away on Saturday April 11, 2015.
Trisha was born to William and Mildred Stanionis in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the second of what would eventually be nine children. She spent her early youth traveling around the world with her military family. They eventually settled in California, where Trisha attended Holy Names University. A college night job led to a career in hotel management, the crowning jewel of which was building and running Sacramento’s Capitol Plaza Holiday Inn for many years.
The hotel provided a perfect home for Trisha’s civic involvement. Boards, committees, events - you name it, she did it, and Sacramento was all the better for her efforts. In fact, the Sacramento Association of Realtors named her their Sacramentan of the Year in 1989.
Her prolific charitable activity led Trisha to her second career in the non-profit world (well, there was another career ... in bowling. Yes, bowling.). Through her roles as Executive Director of The Effort (now WellSpace), Project Help, and most recently the Yolo Family Service Agency, she became a tireless activist for families struggling with drug addiction, poverty, mental illness, and more. It is said that the Sacramento Board of Supervisors used to duck when they saw her coming - that’s how determined and unflinching her advocacy was.
Trisha lit up every room she ever walked into. From her rainbow socks to her crazy colorful glasses to her toy collection to the rubber chickens she handed out like business cards, Trisha was undeniably bright and bold. If there was a mountain to be climbed, a camel to be ridden, a hypocritical legislator to be taken down, Trisha was there. She never met a challenge she couldn’t face with gusto and style - and usually win.
Even with all this, there was so much more to Trisha. Her personal and professional generosity and kindness were legendary. She loved the arts, from opera and theater to outsider art and children’s finger paintings. And, she was an artist herself - ceramics, jewelry, knitting, and more. She was a long-time leader in the St. Francis Catholic Church community, serving as a lector and as an unofficial social justice agitator.
Trisha was predeceased by her parents and older brother David, and is survived by her family - seven siblings, their spouses, and their children. However, she is also survived by the hundreds of people whom she treated like family, including her American Leadership Forum and St Francis communities and just about every person she met, each of whom received a charming, bawdy, hilarious birthday card from her every year. And, finally, she is also survived by the legions who, whether they knew it or not, benefited from her never-ending efforts to help and empower people from all walks of life who needed a hand. We will, all of us, miss her so.
Trisha Stanionis lived life joyfully and generously and left the world a better place. We are each lucky to have basked in her brilliant light and unquestionably better for having known her.
A raucous celebration of the life of the inimitable Trisha Stanionis will be held on Saturday, April 25th at 10 AM at St. Francis of Assisi (1066 26th Street in Sacramento), immediately followed by a reception in the church hall. Colorful dress encouraged, outrageous anecdotes welcome, and throwing of dinner rolls expected. Just the way Trisha would have wanted it!
Donations in Trisha's honor may be made to: The Effort (now known as WellSpace Health), WEAVE, Yolo Family Service Agency, Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign, or just about any organization supporting evolved treatment of drug addiction and mental health, anti-violence, or access to the arts.
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