Alice Sapienza

Alice Sapienza Donnelly, MA in speech rhetoric communications, has been an international toastmistress and leadership trainer for more than 35 years. She has written and produced a play and is the author of three books including the recently published, Beyond the Golden Door.

Alice was named Citizen of the Century at the Wilkinsburg BiCentennial. During this time, she lead the search party that found every time capsule except the centennial one. Digging expeditions were organized. Often it provided humorous fodder for the evening news.


Born August 9, 1920, age 99, award-winning poet as selected by the National Library of Poetry, dramatist, public speaker and author, died on Monday, August 19, 2019. Among her writings, Beyond the Golden Door, a history of the challenges of Italian immigration and other cultures; as well as the stage play Brother Beware A musical about the life of Louis Jorden, father of rhythm and blues.

Alice was twice widowed, a business owner, graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and part time public speaking instructor for the University for 26 years. She served as President of the Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Wilkinsburg Arts Theater. When once asked what was her greatest achievement she was quick to answer "raising her family and her involvement with intercity youth organizations. Hopefully my volunteer efforts and especially my writings reflect the hurt of exclusion. I thank my immigrant parents, who taught us to respect the dignity of all people".

Alice was the cherished wife of the late Salvatore Thomas Sapienza who died in 1974. She then married John Donnelly who died in 1990. Alice is survived by her children and step children; Rosette (Bill) Sapienza Hillgrove, Thomas (Betsy) Sapienza, James (Paula) Sapienza, Francis (Sheila) Sapienza, Patrick (Karen) Donnelly and Kathleen (Tony Dixon) Dixon Donnelly. She also is survived by 15 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Friends are welcome on Thursday from 5-8pm at Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home and Crematory, Turtle Creek/Monroeville Chapel, 1111 Monroeville Ave. at James St., Turtle Creek 412-823-9350.

Mass of Christian Burial will be in St. Maurice Church on Friday at 10 a.m. Alice will be laid to rest in Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for diversity scholarships may be made to: University of Pittsburgh Provost's Diversity Development Fund, 107 Park Plaza, 128 N. Craig St. Pgh., Pa. 15260.