In Memoriam: The Passing of Marian 'Bunny' Calabrese

Dr. Marian

Dr. Marian "Bunny" Calabrese

News Story: May 1, 2012

It is with great sorrow that I share with you the passing of Marian “Bunny” Calabrese, former associate professor of English. By all accounts, she was one of those rare and special teachers who was beloved by her students and respected by her colleagues – so much so that Student’s Government’s Outstanding Faculty Award is named in her honor. She was also the founder of Knit Wits, a campus club whose members knit hats, scarves, mittens and prayer shawls to donate to shelters and to families impacted by HIV and AIDS. Dr. Calabrese retired from Sacred Heart in 2005 and has been greatly missed ever since.

There will be a memorial service for her on Saturday, May 12 at 11:00am at Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church, 168 Broad Street, Milford, CT. To view Dr. Calabrese's obituary, CLICK HERE.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends and with any of you who may have known her. 
John J. Petillo, Ph.D.
Sacred Heart University


Obituary courtesy of the Waterbury Republican-American

Marian "Bunny" Calabrese Award-winning Sacred Heart University Professor

HAMDEN — On May 7, 2012, Marian Silverstein Calabrese (Bunny), 74, of Hamden (formerly of Trumbull), passed away peacefully. Loving wife of the late Thomas J. Calabrese Jr., mother of Stacey (Richard) Riccardi of Hamden and Jason (Jennifer) Calabrese of Waterbury, grandmother of Aiden Pelletier, and sister-in-law of James (Margaret) Calabrese of Devon, Pa.

Bunny was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 7, 1938, daughter of the late Alfred and Ann Silverstein. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in speech and drama from State University of New York at Albany, and her doctor of philosophy from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she studied curriculum and English. She began her career teaching high school English in West Babylon, N.Y., before moving to Stowe, Vt., where she was an English and speech instructor at Middlesex College. In 1967, she joined the staff of Sacred Heart University as a lecturer, and moved up the ranks of the faculty, retiring in 2005 as professor emeritus. While at Sacred Heart, she served on numerous committees, as well as directing the freshman communication program and co-directing the premedical advisement program. Although she would modestly say she just "taught a little school," she was highly regarded by both her colleagues and her students.

In 1991, she won the Sears Roebuck outstanding teacher and campus leadership award. In 1993, she was elected CASE Professor of the Year for the state of Connecticut by her peers. For three years in a row 1993, 1994 and 1995 students at Sacred Heart voted her best professor. Then, when they could no longer nominate her, they paid her the supreme compliment of naming the award in her honor. For many years, she was honored to present to others the Marian Calabrese Outstanding Teacher Award. She also received the "Outstanding Contribution" award in 1996 and the Student Athlete's Council "Outstanding Faculty" award in 1997. She was featured as a "Woman of Substance" in the Connecticut Post in 1993, and named a "Woman of Distinction" by the Housatonic Girl Scout Council in 1994. In a tribute to her extraordinary distinction in the field of education, her alma mater bestowed on her the Excellence in Education Award in 2000. An avid supporter of athletics and a fixture at Pioneer games, the athletic department named the Dr. Marian "Bunny" Calabrese Spirit Award to honor her significant and lasting impact on Sacred Heart athletics.

Her passion for teaching and her students was equaled by her passion for helping those less fortunate. She founded Knit Wits, a campus club whose members knit hats, scarves, mittens and prayer shawls to donate to shelters and to families impacted by HIV and AIDS. She was the faculty coordinator for the AIDS Quilt Project at Sacred Heart. She would bring students to Merton House of Hospitality to prepare and serve holiday meals, an activity she continued after retirement.

Her activity in mission extended beyond the walls of Sacred Heart, as she was involved in the bereavement team, the Commission on Social Ministry, and the Needlers prayer shawl ministry at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull. She was an active supporter of many causes, including Habitat for Humanity, breast cancer awareness, Friends of the Trumbull Library, and the English Springer Spaniel Rescue Network. She was a member of the Trumbull Moonlight Quilters, a group who makes quilts for children with AIDS and friends in need.

Her metaphor for her life was a kaleidoscope, and her interests were just as colorful and varied. She loved photography, quilting, crafting, rug braiding, music, movies, books ("slice and dice" novels were her favorite), dogs, cats, QVC, travel, fine food, senior citizen soccer with her favorite grandson, Aiden, Starbucks coffee and jelly doughnuts.

Married for 42 years to her "partner in crime," she and Tom are now both in heaven, able to walk together without pain. She was truly known for her sense of humor, love of family and friends, passion for life, and an incredible resiliency and spirit that consistently defied the medical odds. When asked how she juggled it all, she said, "I don't clean; I send the house out. I also don't sleep muchI'm voracious in my interests. There's not enough time to try everything."

Friends are invited to attend a memorial service celebrating Bunny's life on Saturday, May 12, at 11 a. m. at Mary Taylor Memorial UMC, 168 Broad St., Milford, CT 06460. There will be no calling hours.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to one of the following: Merton House of Hospitality, 43 Madison Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604; or the University at Albany Foundation, 1400 Washington Ave., UAB 226, Albany, NY 12222 (please note her name in the memo). There will be a time of fellowship and food following the service.

She and her family want to thank the staff of St. Vincent's Hospital, Bridgeport Hospital, and Maefair Health Care Center for their care and support; they are living proof that there are angels among us.

Smith & Sefcik Funeral Home, 135 Broad St., Milford, is handling the arrangements. To leave condolences, or for directions, please visit our website at

To view this obituary online, CLICK HERE.