Delores "Smokey" Crisucci was born June 29th, 1930 to parents Peter Crisucci and Margaret (Landi) Crisucci. She was the youngest of nine children and was born in the living room of the little home that they all shared in the Italian neighborhood known as Brier Hill, in Youngstown, Ohio. Smokey's parents were Italian immigrants who came from central Italy in search of the American Dream. Smokey and her siblings were the family's first generation of Italian Americans. Smokey lost her mother at the young age of 13, and from then on was raised by her father and her older sisters. Smokey dreamed of an education. She loved learning and reading; initially she wanted to become a nun; however, her father urged her to become a teacher. Smokey was the first in her family to attend college and to earn her degree. She earned her Bachelor's degree in health and physical education, along with her teaching credential from Youngstown State University in 1958. Through continuing education, she also earned her Masters equivalency.
Smokey began teaching in 1958 at Ursuline Catholic High School in Ohio. She taught there for two years before deciding that she wanted to move to California. In 1959, she moved to Glendora, California and began teaching at Newton Junior High School in La Puente. Smokey taught Social Studies and English. When she moved to Riverside, she taught P.E. at Sierra Junior High School. When North High School opened, she was hired as one of the first full time P.E. teachers. Smokey also began her coaching career at North, coaching girls' basketball, girls' softball, and she was the drill team instructor. Smokey pioneered the girls' basketball team at North High School. In 1974, Smokey transferred to Arlington High School. She coached girls' softball and tennis, and was the head softball coach through the 1987-1988 school year, during which time she decided to become the assistant coach as part of her succession plan. Smokey retired from teaching and coaching in 1990.
When Smokey began coaching, there were predominantly male coaches. Smokey was very instrumental in starting Title 9 in Riverside, in pursuit of equal opportunity for female athletes and female sports teams. Prior to Title 9, Smokey was involved in the coaches' organization of Riverside. She was instrumental in organizing inter-school athletic competitions throughout the city in order to facilitate competition between various schools in the Riverside area. Smokey worked with the CIF organization to set up softball playoff competitions and finals. Smokey's softball teams went to the CIF playoffs 80% of the time, and 50% of the time they made the finals, going as far as the semi-finals and ranking one of the top four teams of the Southern California region. She was incredibly proud of her softball players and was humbled by their love, trust, and tenacity for her and the game.
Smokey enjoyed golfing, gardening, and spending time with her family and friends - whom she referred to as "Kangangers." It was impossible to go anywhere with Smokey without running into someone who knew her. Smokey has undoubtedly had an incredible and lasting impact on every life that she touched. She was a straight shooter, she spoke her mind, and you always knew where you stood with her. She was fair, honest, and always pushed those that she cared for to strive for and achieve their personal best. She held a special place in so many hearts, from students, to athletes, to colleagues and friends, and especially her family. Smokey was truly one of a kind and God broke the mold when he made her.
Smokey is survived by many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and several great-great nieces and nephews; many of whom followed in her footsteps and became teachers. Smokey went to sleep at home in Riverside, and awoke in the loving arms of her parents and siblings as they carried her home to her Savior.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in memory of Delores "Smokey" Crisucci to one of her favorite charities: The ASPCA, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. A private funeral mass will be held for immediate family, a virtual Zoom option is available. Interment will be in Youngstown, Ohio.