On Mother’s Day, May 14, 2023 Shirlee Ann Boselli passed away while at Elderwood of Waverly after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Shirlee was 89 years old. She was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on August 16th, 1933, the second daughter of John and Julia Zettle. After graduating from Allentown High, she attended Cedar Crest College before moving to New York City, earning her B.S. in Nursing from The Cornell School of Nursing, and meeting her husband of 59 years, Dr. Bruce Boselli, who was then a student at the Medical College. They were married in 1956; both graduated the next spring, and their first child, Kathryn Louise, was born that Fall.
Shirlee and Bruce lived for two years in New York, enjoying all the city had to offer in the ‘50s, and Shirlee gave birth to their second child, Lisa Kate, in 1958. Shortly after Lisa’s birth, Bruce joined the U.S. Army Medical Corp. and he was stationed outside Stuttgart, Germany, where Shirlee joined them shortly with the two girls. What followed were three years spent exploring Europe. The couple also welcomed two more children while in Germany, Juliette Ann and John David.
When Bruce and Shirlee returned to the United States, the family lived in Vermont for three years while Bruce completed a three-year residency in Internal Medicine at The University of Vermont. Shirlee gave birth to the youngest Boselli child, Robin Elizabeth, during this time, before all seven members of the family relocated to Athens, Pennsylvania where Bruce joined The Guthrie Clinic.
Shirlee identified first and foremost as a mother — but her interests and energy expanded to many
activities beyond her children. She was an enthusiastic tennis player, and she and her close friends had regular tennis dates and many of her trips centered around places where the couples could play tennis. Shirlee was a music lover and sang for many years with The Valley Chorus. She sang at her daughters’ weddings and music was regularly playing in the Boselli house.
Shirlee always had a love for nature and in particular she became an avid birder, bringing Bruce along in this hobby after his retirement. The couple spent many vacations together visiting bird sanctuaries and hiking. In 2001 Shirlee traveled to The Galápagos Islands with a friend, marveling at the birds and other wildlife there. One place that was also a favorite of Shirlee’s was Vermont, and she and Bruce traveled there at least once a year. The couple also enjoyed Niagara on the Lake, often meeting friends there or traveling with one of their adult children.
Shirlee and Bruce first visited Sanibel and Captiva Islands in the late 1980s, where they would eventually spend the better part of winters after Bruce retired. They also built their dream house on Ridgebury Lake. Both of these were places Shirlee loved for their natural beauty and in particular the Happy Hour sunsets. When in Florida, Shirlee could be found every morning walking on the beach in the “Sanibel Stoop” as she searched with great passion and focus for the seashells deemed of high enough quality for her to take home. Needless to say, she amassed quite a collection.
Shirlee is pre-deceased by her parents, John and Julia Zettle, and her husband Bruce. She is survived by her only sibling, Doris Zettle, recently of Waverly, and her five children, Kathryn Vizas (Bob), Lisa Osborn (Jim), Juliette (Shawn Shoultys), John (Lisa), and Robin, and six grandchildren, Emily, Brian and Bruce Osborn, Julia Kao Sessions, Nicholas Kao and Anika Kao.
The family is planning a private memorial service which will be scheduled at a later date. The family requests that donations may be made in Shirlee’s memory to the Cornell Ornithology Lab, a place that Shirlee and her husband supported for more than 30 years and that was special to both of them. Checks can be sent to: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY, 14850.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of The Thomas Cremation and Funeral Service, 1297 Elmira St., Sayre, Pa. Those wishing to leave a sympathy message for Shirlee’s family may do so at thomascremationfuneralservice.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirlee Ann (Zettle) Boselli, please visit our floral store.
Cornell Ornithology Lab
Cornell Lab of Ornithology 159 Sapsucker Rd., Ithaca NY 14850