News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 19, 2010

Margaret Gisolo

BLANFORD — Margaret Gisolo’s extraordinary life ended peacefully in her home in Tempe, Ariz., on Oct. 20, 2009, a few hours before her 95th birthday. She was born Oct. 21, 1914, in Blanford, to Italian immigrant parents, Nicolao and Metilde Bellezza Gisolo.

Margaret Gisolo enjoyed a long and distinguished career in athletics and dance. 

A talented baseball player, she played American Legion baseball at age 13 with the Blanford Cubs, who captured the Indiana state championship in 1928. Because of the controversy that arose over girls playing, the next year girls were barred from American Legion baseball, a ruling that stood until the 1970s.

She attended Jacksonville Elementary School in Blanford, was a 1931 Clinton High School graduate, and 1935 Indiana State University graduate. She served as the first full-time executive director of Terre Haute Girl Scouts from January 1936 to August 1937, resigning to teach in Paris, Ill. She earned a Master of Arts degree at New York University. She served in the Navy WAVES in World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. After the war, she taught dance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 1947 to 1952.

She joined the Arizona State University faculty in 1954 and served as chairperson of the program in dance until 1977, building one of the top university dance programs in the country. In 1974, she was asked to join the national Council of Dance Administrators. In 1979, Margaret received the Arizona State University Distinguished Teacher Award.

After retiring from teaching in 1980, she played in tennis tournaments on the national circuit. Margaret was nationally ranked until 2000, when at age 86 she stopped traveling to national matches; she was ranked first in doubles and second in singles at the time.

In 1982, Indiana State University named her a Distinguished Alumna. In 1985, she was awarded the ASU Fine Arts Distinguished Achievement Award. In 1994, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by Arizona State University. Indiana State University also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 1996, and she was inducted into ISU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 for lifetime accomplishments.

Margaret was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago in May 2004. She is included in Diamond Dreams, a permanent exhibit celebrating women in baseball, in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. 

Margaret was preceded in death by her parents; as well as siblings, Toney Gisolo, Joe Gisolo, Louise Gisolo Cox, Dom Gisolo, and Mary Gisolo Oppenheimer.

She is an inspiration to, and will be missed by her nieces and nephews, Larry and Mary Kay Gisolo Burton of Little Rock, Ark., Keith and Jane Gisolo Goetz of Ottawa, Ill., Myron and Carol Frohbieter Oppenheimer of Fairfield, Ill., Robert Oppenheimer of Los Angeles, Albert and Donna Gisolo Christenberry of Terre Haute.; four great-nephews, Daniel Christenberry, Jonathan Goetz, Anthony Burton and Ben Oppenheimer; four great-nieces, Annamary Thompson, Ellen Gross, Mary Sacadat and Riann Zurliene; nine great-great nieces and nephews; cousin Cesare Lamberto of Lanzo, Italy, and legions of friends, colleagues and students.

According to her wishes, she was cremated. Graveside services and burial of her cremains will be 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26, 2010, in Walnut Grove Cemetery, in Clinton. Her family and her friends and neighbors from Blanford will gather for a celebration of life at 11 a.m. in the atrium of University Hall, Indiana State University, at Eighth and Chestnut streets. Giovanini Funeral Home in Clinton is assisting with arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made payable to the ASU Foundation, Attn: Margaret Gisolo Scholarship in Dance. Mail to Development Office, Herberger College of the Arts, Arizona State University, PO Box 872102, Tempe, AZ 85287-2102.


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