Ida Rose Balsiger Talarico passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Saturday, December 31st at UPMC Hamot at the age of 83, after a courageous battle with a rare degenerative muscular disease. She was born in Erie on June 3rd, 1933, the daughter of the late Mary and Rudolph Balsiger. She graduated from Academy High School, class of 1951, and was married for 62 years to Francis (Frank) Talarico, who died in 2014. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Rudy (Skip) Balsiger.
Even though Ida’s heritage was German, most people assumed she was Italian since she was the quintessential Italian grandmother and probably the best Italian cook in the family. Every Sunday was the same. We ate spaghetti or the family favorite, “baked macaroni”, and she would wait until every single person was eating before she would even sit down. No matter how much you ate, she never thought you had enough! She made sure her kids and grandkids all knew how to “make the sauce”. Ida and her best friend, the late Loretta Daley, made mountains of Italian cookies for every wedding, shower, and graduation and every Christmas there were friends whose holiday was not complete until Ida delivered their annual Christmas cookies. Ida also loved to bowl, sew, play cards with her cousins, and take care of her flower gardens.
Ida’s family always came first. She was devoted to her children, crazy about her grandchildren, and absolutely adored her great grandchildren, and they all loved to spend the night with their cousins at “Grandma Ida’s”. She was the most fun babysitter and in the morning Grandpa Frank would bring home donuts for everybody. Until her illness worsened, she was always on the go and loved attending their school and sporting events.
Ida had 40 or 50 first cousins, too many to count, but she knew them all, their spouses and their kids, and remembered all their names. The standing joke was that, wherever you went, you were bound to run into one of Ida’s cousins.
Ida loved being with people and she could walk into a roomful of strangers and just start chatting away! As her disease symptoms worsened, she spent her last couple of years at West Lake Woods assisted living center. She made many friends and the staff loved her. She always said they treated her “like a queen”. She loved participating in the activities and working jigsaw puzzles in the hall, where she could talk to everyone that passed by. She was still playing Bingo two days before her death. The family would like to thank the West Lake Woods staff for being so caring and making her final days as comfortable as possible. They were her second family.
Ida is survived by her daughter, Mary Kay Talarico, of Erie, her son, Dr. Joseph (Deb) Talarico, of Zelienople, PA, and her son, Sam (Mary Jo) Talarico, of Erie; along with eleven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her beloved sister-in-law, Mary Anne Balsiger Grumblatt.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Second Harvest Food Bank,1507 Grimm Dr., Erie, PA 16501.
As per Ida’s request, there will be no visitation. Friends and family are invited at attend a celebration of Ida’s life on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at the Colony Banquet Hall, 3014 West 12th St. from noon until 3:00 PM. Arrangements by the John J. Quinn Funeral Home, West 9th & Liberty St.