Cover photo for Shirley Claire Stathas's Obituary
Shirley Claire Stathas Profile Photo

Shirley Claire Stathas

April 10, 1934 — December 26, 2023

Shirley Claire Stathas


Madison - Shirley Claire (Capitani) Stathas was born on April 10, 1934, in Lake Forest, IL and passed over the Christmas holiday at her home in Madison, WI.  She grew up in Highwood, IL and was the pride and joy of her parents Nora (Muzzarelli) and Dominic Capitani.  She attended Highland Park High School and graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin.  Shirley was the first person in her family to go to college.  She worked for many years as a Speech Therapist, and after her children were in school, she embarked on a new career as an Archeology Coordinator for the WI Department of Transportation.  Her interests and aptitudes were broad.


Her passing leaves a void in the hearts and lives of her husband of 65 years, Chuck; her children John (Janet), Lynn (Glenn Krieg) and Jim (Sheryl); and her grandchildren Claire, Julia, C.J. (Rebecca Glendon), Kimberly and Alexandria.  The following are some notes she left for her family and friends, in her own words:


“I decided to share what was important to me in my life and what shaped me into the person I am/was.  Those who knew me well know that it would be very difficult for me to say “good-bye” to all of you without having the last word, whether factual or wise.  That never mattered too much to me.


When I learned I had cancer, it really didn’t seem to register fully.  Was I surprised—yes; sad—yes; accepting—yes; and hopeful—yes.


First and foremost, don’t be sad.  I have had a wonderful and full life with so many blessings and so few hardships.  I have so many things to be thankful for.  My husband, children, grandchildren, and the many amazing friends I was blessed with, as well as the Nuns, priests and teachers who helped me along the way.  I am also thankful for:


  • My Parents - I had wonderful and loving parents who did not have much money but gave me so much love, understanding and lifelong learning.  They taught me to be accepting of everyone and it was a firm understanding in our house that no one was above anyone else, regardless of whether rich or poor, enemy or ally, intelligent or challenged.  I remember my Dad telling me that as soon as you think you are better than another person, you have dropped below that person. They also taught me that regardless of what you attain in life, education is the only thing that can’t be taken away from you.  And with God’s help, you should always seek knowledge and care for others.  I was always taught that you helped those less fortunate.  Their love sustained me always.
  • My Grandparents - I had a wonderful grandmother who made beautiful clothes for me and most of my college wardrobe, along with a lemon meringue pie waiting on the table every time I visited her in St. Louis.  And a grandfather who would drive me to get a soda whenever I visited.  No one liked to drive with him because you could walk faster—but I would willingly jump in the car to go downtown or wherever he decided to go (even though I didn’t like soda).
  • My Aunts/Uncles/Cousins - I was blessed with aunts and uncles who cared about me and cousins who always told things as it was.  No elaboration self-aggrandizement there. 
  • My Italian Heritage - I never met an Italian I didn’t love, and you may realize that many of us say what we think and sometimes not at the appropriate time, but we say what is in our heart, what we believe, and with caring.  Our family never lavished praise on accomplishments.  It was understood that you did the best you could and if you didn’t, you were told in no uncertain terms that you could have done better.  If you gained weight, you were told you were too heavy and you should lose weight—yet at the table you were told to eat more or you would get sick. The one word I knew well in Italian was “mangia”.  Go figure!


Steve Jobs, when addressing graduating students, said that we all know we are going to die, we all know there is a heaven, we all want to go to heaven, but we don’t want to die to get there.  How true that is and how beautifully he expressed exactly how I feel.  Unfortunately, I don’t know if I am going to be fortunate enough to reach heaven, but I do know that when I die, I will begin the final stage of my life which will be everlasting.  So please pray for me that I didn’t waste too much of my life, and that I will gain entrance to heaven and eternal happiness.”


A visitation will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Parish, 602 Everglade Dr., Madison, WI on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at 10:00 A.M., followed by Mass at 11:00 A.M.  A lunch celebrating Shirley will follow.  Gifts in Shirley's memory may be made payable to the UW Foundation with a note “tribute in memory of Shirley Stathas” to the "Bucky's Tuition Promise Fund #112200183" or to the "Great People Annual Scholarship Fund #112816740." Mail to UW Foundation, US Bank Lockbox Box 78807 Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807. Gifts can also be made online at


Cress Funeral & Cremation Services is serving Shirley's family.

3610 Speedway Rd.

Madison, WI 53705


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley Claire Stathas, please visit our flower store.

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