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In Loving Memory of Anna Maria Sie

Anna Maria Sie​
April 21, 1945 – September 20, 2023​

We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved co-founder, Anna Maria Sie, passed away after a long battle with endometrial cancer. Her relationship with her granddaughter, Sophia, who happens to have Down syndrome, inspired the creation of GLOBAL, the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the Sie Center for Down Syndrome, the Alzheimer’s & Cognition Center, the GLOBAL Inclusive Program and so much more.​

GLOBAL will be dedicating our 2023 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show to her memory and the legacy she leaves for the Down syndrome community. Before she passed, Anna asked that donations be made to GLOBAL in lieu of flowers. ​

We are honored to share a poem that Anna wrote in her last weeks, her obituary and photos from her funeral service. While we are devastated, we are comforted to know that she lives on in the countless people that she touched. ​

I’m Free​
A Poem by Anna Sie​

When tomorrow starts without me,​
Please try to understand —​
An angel came and called my name.​

I took his hand, I turned my back, I left it all —​
I could not stay another day​
To laugh, to love, to work or play.​
Tasks left undone must stay that way.​

The angel said my place is ready.​

If my parting has left a void,​
Then fill it with remembered joy.​
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss​
Oh yes these are things that I shall miss.​

I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.​
My life’s been full, I savored much,​
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.​
Perhaps my time seemed too brief,​
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

God wanted me now, he set me free.

A Life Well Lived – Anna Sie’s Obituary

​Anna Sie, devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, loyal friend, mentor, and generous philanthropist, died peacefully in her home surrounded by her family on September 20, 2023. She was 78 years old.​

​On July 21, 1955, Anna disembarked from the MS Vulcania ocean liner in New York City with her father, Tommaso Maglione, and her two older brothers. Like many immigrants, small suitcases held their worldly belongings and there were no jobs lined up, but there were distant relatives to stay with.​

The ten-day voyage from Napoli, Italy was the start to Anna’s “Cinderella” story. From the tender age of 10, and for the 21/2 years while they saved money to send for her mother, older sister, and two younger brothers, Anna cooked, cleaned, and became the translator for the family.​

Anna was beautiful, smart, charismatic, and athletic. She had a quick wit and the voice of ​an angel. Anna graduated from Watchung Hills Regional High School in New Jersey where​ she made life-long friends who have stayed connected for over 5 decades celebrating milestones and holidays around the world.

While she was not allowed to attend college, fortuitously she did get a job as a switchboard operator at Microstate Electronics where she met the love of her life, John J. Sie. John immigrated from China in 1950 and spent his high school years in an orphanage in New York City. Together for 56 years, they raised five wonderful children and, against many odds, ​lived the American Dream.​

As John tried various entrepreneurial pursuits, the family moved a lot. Though uprooting ​was difficult, and sometimes it was hard to make the food budget last with seven mouths ​to feed, Anna was the consummate caregiver. She ran a household full of children (and ​their numerous friends) and hosted traditional Italian holidays for her father and brothers’ families. She took care of business dinners and parties while taking countless wives of executives who worked for John under her wing, and was an inspiration and mother to all.​

Anna loved movies and inspired John when he helped build Showtime and then again when he ​launched the Starz and Encore channels. Thanks to Dr. John Malone and Peter Barton, Anna and ​John helped to build the cable TV industry in the U.S. and were able to retire comfortably. Her life ​was filled with travel, cooking, shopping, decorating houses, music, TV bingeing, movies, proud ​moments with grandchildren, and a multitude of philanthropic pursuits.​

​Anna endowed the Anna Maglione-Sie Chair in Italian Language & Literature at the University of Denver, and she started the prestigious annual Italian Filmmaker Award at the Denver ​Film Festival. She endowed the Dan & Boyce Sher Chair at the College of Music at the University of Colorado Boulder where she was patron to some of the best Italian opera ​singers who ironically were from China. ​

​For Anna, by far her most important legacy is related to her granddaughter, Sophia, who happens to have Down syndrome. Understanding what it is like to be treated differently ​and not as smart, and having faced discrimination as an immigrant and in an interracial marriage, Anna was determined to ensure that Sophia and all children and adults with ​Down syndrome live longer, healthier, happier, and fulfilled lives.​

​Anna co-founded the affiliated organizations that have already increased lifespan and ​health outcomes for this special population – Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Linda ​Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Alzheimer’s & Cognition Center both on the Anschutz Medical Campus, Anna & John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the pilot GLOBAL Adult Down Syndrome Center at Denver Health. ​

​Most recently she provided the seed funding to start the GLOBAL Inclusive Program at Regis University, the first post-secondary program for students with intellectual disabilities at a Jesuit University and the second at a Catholic University in the U.S.​

​She has received many awards for her philanthropic work and holds an Honorary Doctorate ​in Higher Education at the University of Denver, an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Colorado, and an Honorary Doctorate from Regis University.

​Anna was diagnosed with stage IV endometrial cancer in December of 2013. With her loving husband, children, and a team of amazing scientists and caring medical professionals, Anna lived another wonderful decade with great quality of life. She created boundless happiness and cherished memories for her family and the countless people she touched.​

​Anna is survived by her beloved husband of 56 years, John, their five children, Susan Sie (Richard Kopyscianski), Dr. Debbie Sie (Dr. Justin Hoffman), James Sie (Doug Wood), Michelle Sie Whitten (Tom Whitten), and Allison Sie Hildestad (Orin Hildestad); six grandchildren, Ben Sie, Shaela Hoffman, Sophia and Patrick Whitten, Silas & Freyja Hildestad; five siblings, Sabatino Maglione, Rosa Del Tufo, Ciro Maglione, Tony Maglione, and Sal Maglione, and dozens of much-loved in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins. ​

​​“I am eternally grateful that in the past 56 years we blissfully raised five most wonderful children and enjoyed the pleasure of our six beautiful grandchildren” ~ John J. Sie​

Anna’s funeral was held on Thursday, September 28, 2023 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan Street, Denver, Colorado. Opera singers Wei Wu and Jing Gurfein, as well as the A cappella group from The University of Colorado Boulder College of Music sang at the service. To honor Anna’s legacy and life, in lieu of flowers, Anna asked that donations in her memory be sent to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation or mailed to 3239 E. 2nd Avenue, Denver, CO 80206.​​