Chalice Diane Oleksiewicz image
Obituary

Chalice Diane Oleksiewicz

With deep love and gratitude for her presence in our lives, we remember Chalice Diane Oleksiewicz, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and teacher.

A truly gentle soul, Chalice was a uniquely kind and caring person. She took pleasure in others’ joys and good fortune. She met people with a special warmth, interest and curiosity about their lives. She was a born educator. She loved reading, telling stories and laughing. She loved knowledge and was happiest when she could share it with young people. Sensitive and thoughtful, she had a big heart and was a compassionate listener. She always had time for you.

Chalice was the daughter of SMSGT Chandler and Mrs. Shirley Cobb, born July 9, 1946, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Growing up in a military family, she spent her early years on Air Force bases in Germany, France and several in the U.S. She said she never attended any school for longer than a year. But she loved having the chance to experience different cultures. That love of culture continued throughout Chalice’s life. She enjoyed traveling in the U.S. and abroad. She made a point to visit botanical gardens wherever she went. She loved spotting wildlife in nature and at home, kept her many bird feeders full. Chalice took special pleasure in capturing beauty in photographs that she loved to share with her family.

Chalice graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1968. There she met Joseph, her husband to be. He says he was impressed with how perceptive and well-spoken she was in their philosophy class. She was impressed by his not being able to make their 11 AM class and having to always borrow her notes. She married him anyway on June 29, 1968 at the Newman Center on campus. Chalice’s dear friend from college says, “Chalice should have become a philosophy professor. She was the smartest person I knew.”

Chalice was an accomplished seamstress. She sewed her entire wardrobe in high school and college, including prom dresses and coats. She designed and sewed her own wedding dress. Chalice also loved to crochet and knit. Throughout her life she sewed clothes for her granddaughters and showered her loved ones with gifts that she made. Chalice appreciated art and crafts made by others. She delighted in collecting Alebrije wood carvings from Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as pottery, fiber, wood and glass pieces.

Together Chalice and Joseph joined the Air Force after graduating. Chalice became a 1st Lieutenant and outranked her husband who was a Staff Sergeant. The couple served together (in different squadrons) at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, WY. That’s where daughter Chandra was born in May 1971. At that time, a woman who had a baby was obligated to leave military service. Chalice says she didn’t mind as one of her life’s dreams was becoming a mother.

Following the service, Chalice devoted herself to being a full-time mother and supporting her husband’s career in public radio. The young family moved to Iowa City. From there it was to Washington, DC and a position for Joseph with National Public Radio. They lived in nearby Alexandria, VA, where son Jason was born in September 1975.

In October 1981, Chalice and the family moved to Chico, CA, where Chalice taught Special Education students for 32 years in the Chico Unified School District. She was a constant advocate for kids facing many challenges. She worked hard teaching, encouraging, supporting and celebrating the successes of her students.

After retirement, the lure of grandkids drew Chalice and Joseph north. In June 2014 they moved to Vancouver to be near their two granddaughters in Portland. Spending time with family was always Chalice’s favorite activity. She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver and participated in the caregivers group “Young at Heart”. Tai Chi was another of her pleasures. At home she was a Class A Puzzler, whether it was a tough jig saw puzzle, Sudoku or her favorite challenge, Kakuro. Amazon almost couldn’t keep up with Chalice’s demand for books on her Kindle. She was an avid reader and devoured real books too.

Chalice Diane Oleksiewicz passed away on May 15, 2021, from pancreatic cancer. Chalice is deeply missed by her loved ones. Chalice is survived by her husband, Joseph, her son Jason, her daughter Chandra and Chandra’s husband, Alex, and their two (grand) children, Cordelia and Beatrice. Chalice also leaves her sister, Susan in Pelham, MA, and a wide circle of friends and acquaintances who will cherish her memory.

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