Ithaca, NY

Christa Bissell passed away peacefully on October 15, 2016, in Ithaca, NY, having led an active, full, adventurous life, content to be moving on. 

Born December 26, 1950 in Mount Kisco, NY, to Daniel J. Yanarella and Olga Fetzko Yanarella, and raised in Shenorock, NY. Christa graduated from St. Mary's School, and came to Ithaca to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in textiles at Ithaca College. She was also a graduate of the IM School of Healing Arts. 

Her brother Danny remembers her as a bright light, an active tomboy, a master of mudpies, and his best friend. To friends, neighbors, and associates, she was known as an inspirational, devoted, loyal friend and colleague, a Peter Pan of a woman, a leader, and a great athlete; she took the St. Mary's basketball team to championship as its leader, and was later inducted into the Kennedy Catholic Athletic Hall of Fame as St. Mary's best female athlete of the century. 

As an adult, she was both a community leader as well as the first one out on the dance floor, where she danced with abandon, encouraging and inspiring others to join in the fun. She was actively involved with the Agape School for several years, studying African dance and Tai Chi. With her unbounded energy, she, was a highlight of the Ithaca Festival parade for many years. Her daughter, Dana, noted, "She raised me to live a life of rhythm and soul", and described her as having "a divine spark that genuinely inspired others." Privately, Christa was enormously and quietly charitable.

A woman of unsurpassed energy and drive, she was one of the original founders of Handwork, ran a successful bakery, worked in a nursing home, a perfume factory, the Rongovian Embassy, and Dos Amigos. She was an author, a community leader, an avid gardener, and for the past 30 years, one of the most respected Realtors in Ithaca, winning a multitude of awards for outstanding service in both real estate and community service, including 1995 Realtor Associate of the Year ,1999 INHS Volunteer of the Year, 2006 Ithaca Board of Realtors Presidents Award, 2009 Housing Opportunity Award, and the 2012 Ithaca Board of Realtors Good Neighbor Award.

As a Realtor, Christa was successful from the start and it was easy to see why. Meticulous with follow up and record keeping, she was honest to the core and devoted to her clients. Moreover, she could always laugh at the lunacy of real estate transactions and the surreal circumstances of the job. No one could tell a real estate "war story" like Christa, told with her famous half-smile, half-grin. She was member of Ithaca's original Caldwell Banker Franchise. In 1990 she moved to Audrey Edelman Real Estate (now RealtyUSA) where she remained, organizing the annual Salvation Army family Christmas donation, negotiating transactions, and taking care of her clients until the very end. 

Above all, Christa was proudest of her loving and devoted daughter, Dana Kingsbury, who survives her. Also surviving are her brother, Danny Yanarella, her former husband, David Kingsbury, and a multitude of close friends and loved ones. Her parents predeceased her, as did her sister, MaryAnn Yanarella, and Christa's soul mate and the love of her life, Larry Post. At his death, a crowd of butterflies occupied her garden. And at hers, butterflies surrounded her bedside. She had gone off to join Larry and his red dancing shoes.

There will be a private burial service at Greensprings Cemetery on October 18, followed by a celebration of life and memorial and dish-to-pass on Friday, October 28, 2016, from 4:00-7:00 at The Foundation of Light, 391 Turkey Hill Road, Ithaca. Funeral arrangements are in the hands of the Lansing Funeral Home. Those considering a donation in Christa's memory are encouraged to consider The Cancer Resource Center, 612 West State Street, Ithaca, NY.