Cover photo for Maryanne Ronca's Obituary
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Maryanne Ronca

September 11, 1935 — November 22, 2022

Maryanne S. Ronca, 87, of Center Valley, passed away on November 22, 2022, at Lehigh Valley Hospital, surrounded by family.

Maryanne, the widow of Donald J. Ronca, was known by family and friends as “Cissy”. She was a beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Cissy is survived by her six daughters (Joan Marie Ronca, Maryanne Groner, Donna Jo Shelton, Suzanne Ronca, Dorothy Talago, and Kathryn Landi); her ten grandchildren (Katie, Zach, Anna, Kristina, Lia, Luke, Emma, Ava, Gabriela and Gianna); and five great grandchildren (Nick, Adam, Freyja, Oliver and Everly).

Maryanne was born and raised in the south side of Bethlehem, the daughter of Emma and John “Chusty” Bilsak, and sister of Joan Gombocz (deceased) and Jack Bilsak. She was very proud of her Slovak heritage and her childhood growing up on “the hill”. She attended St Cyril grade school, graduated from Bethlehem Catholic High School in 1953 and St Lukes Nursing School as a Registered Nurse in 1956. She worked at St Lukes, until her fourth daughter was born, and in later years, she returned to working night shift at Holy Family Manor giving comfort to the patients. She loved the night shift way back to her early nursing days, as well as the breakfast with friends that followed. All those who knew her would agree that she had a generous heart and was always willing to help those in need. To those whom she nursed at their passing, such as her mother Emma, she was a comfort and is now able to be comforted by those same loved ones in heaven.

Maryanne loved her daughters dearly. All throughout their school days she helped with the school, whether as a classroom mom, cooking for the nuns and priests, or helping with school events like the many parades where she made costumes and recruited her husband Donnie, to build the floats and provide the flatbed trucks for the students to ride. She also made sure her daughters got “A”s in school else you got grounded and had to sit around the kitchen table doing more homework. She was there to cheer on her girls and their friends at the many school athletic events, to break-up a sisterly squabble (often over “borrowed” clothing or some such nonsense), or to sooth their tears when a relationship went bad. We all know Mom had opinions (many wise in hindsight) and was not afraid to share them, a trait she received from her mother and passed down to her girls. She was proud when they graduated from high school and college, or when they got married. Most of all, she was ecstatic with the births of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, whom she spoiled every chance she got. She was a true mama bear who protected her cubs.

On the home front, Maryanne enjoyed being a mother and loved to cook, especially meals from the Slovak cook book. She had a sweet tooth, and we loved her desserts, especially her delicious apple pie. She always had a hot meal ready for her family and any friends or stray boyfriends who might also be around. She ran a tight ship and ensured the laundry was washed, pressed and folded, and that the house was clean, even if she needed to vacuum at 2oclock in the morning when things finally settled down. Late nights were her forte. She also

had a knack for finding the same holiday dress in 6 different sizes, one for each daughter, with matching shoes of course!

Maryanne was a woman of great class and loyalty to her family. She always had a comb nearby and lipstick at the ready. While driving the kids around in the station wagon or Lincoln Towncar (sometimes with a lead foot), she wore her JackieO sunglasses, thus having her children good heartedly nickname her “Cissy Hollywood”.

Maryanne had a soft spot for the many pets over the years. Whether it was her dogs Blackie, Zsa-Zsa or Christie, her rabbit Fluffy, the birthing cow on the farm, or our cats, Emma and Emma-Two (a stray which Mom domesticated). Emma-Two was a great comfort and pleasure for Mom in her last days; they were best buddies.

Maryanne also enjoyed gardening, dancing, crocheting and sleeping late, followed by that first can of Coca-Cola in the morning (well, early afternoon). The physical therapists that came to her house learned to keep soap opera time uninterrupted. Everyone who knew her also knew she enjoyed sports, such as Michael Jordan playing basketball, Roger Federer playing tennis or any ice skating. Most of all, she was an “avid Tom fan” as long as it was Tom Jones or Tom Brady. We will miss her excitement for football.

We will also miss moms reading the daily newspaper, often with Emma-Two at her side on the sofa, where she loved to read the obituaries first, and alas, we hope she is reading this from heaven.

We love you Mrs Ronca, Maryanne, Cissy, Mom, Gram and Great Grammy! You have played many roles over the years and words cannot capture our gratefulness for your presence in our lives. May your soul rest in peace.

Services: Viewing at Connell Funeral Home, 245 E. Broad St., Bethlehem, PA 18018 on Wednesday November 30, from 5:30-8:30 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday December 1, at 11:30 at Incarnation of Our Lord, 617 Pierce St., Bethlehem, followed by burial at Holy Savior Cemetery.

Contributions: In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Tunnels to Towers Foundation ( and Shriners Hospitals (

Holy Saviour Cemetery
2575 Linden St.
Bethlehem PA 18017

Wednesday, November 30, 2022
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Connell Funeral Home, Inc.
245 East Broad St.
Bethlehem PA 18018

Mass of Christian Burial
Thursday, December 1, 2022
11:30 AM
Incarnation of Our Lord Parish
617 Pierce St.
Bethlehem PA

Funeral HomeConnell Funeral Home, Inc.
245 East Broad St.
Bethlehem PA - 18018

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

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