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Anita Hamada McCollester
Energetic. Enthusiastic. Authentic. An original. Resilient. Vivacious. Hilarious. Dynamic. Sushi
aficionado. Determined. Doggin-loving. Kind. Generous. Adventurous. Grateful.
Words simply don’t capture the larger than life presence Anita had throughout her life. “A firecracker” is another description of her. Three years ago, our family did a series of interviews with Anita to document her experience and insights. Children and grandchildren were tasked with choosing an adjective to describe her and to provide a story that revealed each trait. We aspire to embody these attributes and values in our own lives.
Anita Sessner Hamada was born to Shozo Hamada (deceased) and Margarethe Sessner (deceased). The unlikely pair met in New York and although they lacked a common language, they decided to build a life together. Anita had a younger brother, Tadashi Frederick Hamada (deceased).
Anita began school with a German accent and Japanese syntax. At an early age, Anita learned the importance of language in order to connect with others and to gain insight into another’s culture. She was encouraged, supported and mentored by significant educators throughout her school years to pursue a college education and explore the world. Her adventurous spirit led her to snorkel with sharks in Tahiti, to hike through the Amazon jungle, and to sail in the waters of Key West, Vancouver, Maine, Long Island, Capri and Canada’s North Chanel.
Anita graduated from St. Lawrence University (Go Larries!) in Canton, New York. Along with studying French and Spanish, she enjoyed many weekends on the ski slopes and has many tales to tell about her adventures. Anita attended Middlebury College Summer Language School, received an MA in French at University of Notre Dame, and went on to complete ABD (All But Dissertation) in her doctoral studies at the University of Chicago. While attending University of Chicago, she was also mother to 5 children in South Bend.
On April 4, 1953, Anita married Charles Winfield McCollester (POW), father to her 5 children. Charlie died on March 14,1999.
Mourning her absence and celebrating her life (as she requested) are children Dr. Margarethe (Mitsu) Chobanian and husband, Michael MD; Fran Striz; Carole McCollester; Andrea (Ludy) McCollester; Peter McCollester and wife, Deborah Nyikos McCollester. Her 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren are also missing her and bending an elbow in her memory with her signature toast, “Cheers and beers!” She was preceded in death by her grandson, Peter Colin McCollester.
Along with travel, teaching was Anita’s life passion. She taught French and Spanish at Notre Dame, Holy Cross College, and IUSB as well as ESL at Ivy Tech. Her final year of teaching was spent teaching employees and staff Spanish and English. She formed lasting friendships with many of her students over her six decades as an educator.
On February 19 2005, Anita married Edward Lynn Akins. Together, they cooked and hosted many family meals and traveled to France, Spain, and Costa Rica and took many trips throughout the USA.
Anita was proud to be one of the longest parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish. Anita was active in serving the community in countless ways. She was selected by the South Bend Rotary Club to represent the group on a cultural exchange to Mato Grosso, Brazil. In addition, she served on the advisory Council of Real Services for more than 20 years. She even received the Golden Hoosier Award, which acknowledged her lifetime of service and commitment to the community. She also regularly provided and served meals at Our Lady of the Road, and she was an active contributor to Hope Ministries.
While many regard her as someone who could have lived forever, may we all carry on her contagious vivaciousness, gratitude, zest for life, and joy.
Contributions can be made in Anita’s name to Pet Refuge Inc and/or Our Lady of the Road.
Visitation will be 12:00-2:00 Friday, February 9, Palmer Funeral Home-Welsheimer North Chapel, 17033 Cleveland Rd. South Bend, IN 46635.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2:30p.m. Friday, February 9, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame campus.
Celebration of Anita’s life (per her request) Friday, February 9.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com.
Pet Refuge Inc
4626 S. Burnett Drive, South Bend IN 46614
Our Lady of the Road
P.O. Box 4375, South Bend IN 46634