Visitation at Funeral Home
Visitation at Funeral Home
Obituary of Dr. Pamela M. Assalita
Dr. Pamela M. Assalita was declared brain-deceased the morning of October 19th following an auto-pedestrian accident the early evening of October 17th on Science Park Road in State College, PA. Dr. Pam, but known as Pam and Mom, leaves behind a grieving family: daughter Sydney and her husband of 41 years, Dr. Larry.
The youngest of five children, born May 21, 1959 to Cecelia (Tarnopolski) and Frank Luchi in Hazleton, PA she attended Bishop Hafey Catholic High School, where she played basketball and excelled academically. Pam then received her BS/BS in Biology and Psychology, at Wilkes University in Wilkes Barre, PA where she met her future husband, Larry. They were inseparable, the epitome of "Soul Mates." They were married July 24th, 1982 by two Catholic priests and a Lutheran minister at Holy Trinity German Catholic Church in Hazleton, PA.
Dr. Pam went on to earn her Optometry Degree at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (now Salus University) in May 1985 in Philadelphia. She was employed with an Ophthalmological Surgical Group in Jenkintown, PA. Moving to State College in June 1986, Dr. Pam opened a solo office practice in Philipsburg, PA and State College, PA, eventually consolidating those to a new State College Office location following the birth of Sydney. She successfully qualified to sit for and passed the National Inaugural/First Board Certification Exam for Optometry, becoming the first Board Certified Optometrist in Central PA and one of the first 500 in the nation of 31,000 to meet the professional requirements. Although her plan was to retire from Optometry completely, she joined the Eye Center of Central Pennsylvania, at their Bellefonte location for over seven years, until her retirement in May 2020.
Her patients and coworkers continually had beautiful things to say about her care, hard work, and compassion that she provided for every patient in her offices. They were heartbroken when she chose to retire, wishing (sometimes 'begging') that they could stay in her care forever, and many ask about her whenever they are in the office.
Beyond her professional successes, Dr. Pam loved all animals, but especially her Dalmatians, currently Dottie, who simply is at a loss and looking for her. Dark chocolate, ice cream, traveling, flower gardening, and watching Lady Lions basketball were some of her simple enjoyments. Her several miles walking to and from Tom Tudek Memorial Park in Ferguson Township from our home, and spending long hours there during these past years, provided her solace and peace.
Her life's focus was supporting Sydney through every moment possible as a Mom, mentor, best friend and confidant. She gifted Sydney with a love for reading, learning, and most importantly the confidence to be independent and pursue her dreams. She loved providing for Sydney, setting aside every moment to spend time with her and be there for her, not caring about her own needs.
This same kindness and caregiving for others translated through her daily life, where anyone could talk with her, being a sounding board and supporter of all of those around her. She looked for the best in everyone. Even strangers would gravitate towards her, striking up conversations in grocery stores or the airport or unexpected locations.
As an organ donor, she made this final selfless contribution of her body in the hope of saving and improving the lives of others. A "Moment of Acknowledgment" and "Honor Walk" ceremony at UPMC Altoona Surgical Trauma ICU was conducted 8AM Friday, October 20th by the Center for Organ Recovery & Education. Following CORE remarks, a summary of Pam's life was composed and tearfully read by her daughter Sydney. Pam was then accompanied by Larry and Sydney outside the unit, down the hallways lined with over 100 staff and available hospital personnel standing shoulder to shoulder in silent respectful acknowledgment, to the OR elevator. We were later advised this is the biggest Honor Walk attendance they have ever had.
A moment of silence, and someone reading Sydney's statement, is repeated in each OR session, so that all who care for Dr. Pamela knows her and honors her gifts.
The first phase, a successful six-hour Organ Recovery surgery at UPMC Altoona, provided life- giving donations to four matched individuals in the USA. Pam's remains were then transported on that rainy Friday (When Pam was a child, she told Sydney that her own mother told her rain was the 'tears of the Angels') to Pittsburgh's Brian A. Broznick Pavilion, for additional recovery, to provide tissues and anatomical structural components for numerous medical uses and, in some instances, surgical products and procedures.
Dr. Pam's life was a gift, literally and figuratively. Even in limited amounts of time interactions, the empathy and care she provided to her patients, or anyone she met casually was a gift to them and leaves a positive heartfelt memory on a large community, and we believe those individuals will greatly miss her and mourn her passing.
Words cannot express the impact of her sudden death upon Larry and Sydney. We have been so fortunate to be gifted her daily presence, time together and close bonds. The profound grief and sudden loss of future memories, and what might have been, is currently unfathomable. We, Pam's family, are grateful for our time spent with her, and hope our journey ahead will be an honorable living tribute to the memory of Pam's life.
A permanent legacy bench is planned for Tudek Park https://www.twp.ferguson.pa.us/ferguson-township-parks/pages/tom-tudek-memorial-park.
Donations may be sent to "Centre Region Parks and Recreation, 2040 Sandy Drive, Suite A. State College PA 16803" and reference Dr. Pamela M. Assalita. Donations can also be given over the telephone using a credit card at 814-231-3071.
Visitation will be at Koch Funeral Home, Sunday October 29, 2023 from 11AM to 2PM and 4PM to 5PM. An end-of-life service will be held at 5 PM.
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Koch Funeral Home
F. Glenn Fleming, Supervisor
2401 S. Atherton Street
State College, PA 16801
(814) 238-0482 fax
A branch of:
John B. Brown Funeral Home, Inc.
Douglas A. Hallinan, Supervisor
417 Washington Street
Huntingdon, PA 16652
(814) 643-1257 fax