Silvana passed away Wednesday at the Westchester Medical Center. She had just turned 93 little over week before.
Silvana Selisca was born in 1924 in Trieste, Italy. She was the first of five children. Her father had been born in Yugoslavia and mother in Trieste. The family moved to Palermo, Sicily due to her father's job working for the railroad's administrative office for Italy.
While there, she learned to play the piano at her father's urging. She studied the piano for two hours every day with an instructor; she became accomplished enough to play at the local concert halls.
In time, the family moved to Florence. She continued her musical career but was stopped by the outbreak of World War Two. Food was not available in the city due to the war and Silvana would go outside the city each day to get food from farmers to feed the family. For safety, she would go with a group of her girlfriends on bicycles. Each roadway into the city was patrolled by Nazi soldiers and it was necessary to 'sweet-talk' them into allowing the group to pass.
At one point toward the end of the war, her father was taken prisoner along with his fellow office workers and they were being taken north toward Germany. He managed to escape and he worked his way back to Florence on back roads. The family managed to protect and hide him for the remainder of the war.
Fighting was taking place on the street where the family lived and Silvana and her brother, Attilio, went out each day to assist the wounded citizens and bring them to the local movie theater which had been turned into a temporary hospital. Lester Schuman was in the US Army's 5th Evacuation Hospital doing basically the same task of bringing the wounded soldiers to temporary hospital centers. Their paths crossed and they fell in love. They later married and had a son. Lester's commanding officer allowed him to remain in Florence to witness the birth of that son. He later joined the other soldiers to return to New York on-board the aircraft carrier, Wasp. He made arrangements to have his wife and newborn son follow him on-board the US hospital ship, Algonquin. The ship crossed the North Atlantic during the late winter of 1945-1946 arriving in New York in early April, 1946 and was welcomed by Lester and family at Pier 84 on the Hudson River.
Silvana, Lester, and their son lived in the south Bronx and a second son was born just a few years later. Several more years passed and life presented them with a daughter. In 1965 they moved to Pelham Bay and then a few years later to the Country Club area of the Bronx. Lester died in 1983 and Silvana moved to Carmel in 1988 to live closer to her children. She lived there until her passing a few days ago.
She will be sorely missed by her three children, Janet, Robert, and Raymond in addition to being missed by her five grandchildren. She also leaves behind in Italy two surviving sisters and a brother.
She has, indeed, led a rich and varied life in her 93 years. We will miss a loving mother and wonderful person who still had fascinating stories to tell about her life experiences.