Mom’s joy, creativity unvanquished by illness
Donna Charlesworth had a lighthearted sense of humor, especially when it came to her dentures, said her son, Maverick Baer.
The family once was visiting a haunted house when a spooky employee tried to frighten them, and Donna did him one better, holding out her hand.
“When she opened her hand, it was her teeth and he jumped back,” Baer said. “She was a goofball.”
Donna L. Charlesworth of Greensburg died Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, ending her battle with stage IV melanoma. She was 53.
Her daughter, Tiffany Baer, said even in the face of terminal cancer, Mrs. Charlesworth continued to appreciate everyday life and kept laughing.
“She would make light of the situation even though she was faced with hardship,” her daughter said. “She almost had the spirit of a child; the littlest thing could make her happy.”
Longtime friend Carol Bizub said she and Mrs. Charlesworth met in fifth grade in Mountain View Elementary School and used to ride ponies together.
“We always stayed close,” Bizub said. “She had a lot of challenges in her life and she always persevered.”
An artist, Mrs. Charlesworth was creative with various media, including felt, knitting yarn and paint. Bizub described her style as “whimsical and folksy.”
The family planned a fundraiser for the past two years for their group “Dollars for Donna” to help offset the cost of her cancer treatment not covered by insurance.
“She was ecstatic” about the support, said her daughter, Rhiannon Baer. “She was honored and touched beyond belief that there were so many people that cared.”
The group plans to move forward with its third annual summer event in her honor, Tiffany Baer said.
“I think she would really want that,” her daughter said.
To help others, Mrs. Charlesworth donated her body for scientific research, Maverick Baer said.
“She wanted to make sure if she couldn’t make it, perhaps other people could,” he said.
In addition to her children, Mrs. Charlesworth is survived by her husband, Rich Chianese; her father, Lou Charlesworth; and three brothers.
A gathering to celebrate her life will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at the home of Joe and Mary Charlesworth, 3471 Route 982, Latrobe, PA 15650.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or [email protected].