Charlene “Cha Cha” Ann Vitullo Reilly, 80, of Newport, Rhode Island, passed away on December 22, 2019. Charlene was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, on October 26, 1939 to Peter and Florence (Cirillo) Vitullo. As a child, she resided in Bristol and Warren before moving to South Providence. She attended St. Xavier High School in Providence, where she flourished academically, graduating in 1956. Charlene then studied nursing at Salve Regina College. Her undergraduate years were filled with laughter, simple pleasures, and of course, avid studying. After graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1960, Charlene became a registered nurse and worked in the pediatrics wing at St. Joseph's Hospital in South Providence. Charlene combined the finest elements of nursing (compassion, competence, and kindness) with a comprehensive understanding of medicine.
Although she excelled in her profession, Charlene chose to leave nursing to raise her family in Portsmouth, Rhode Island alongside her husband, Peter S. Reilly, whom she married in 1961. Their three children, Gregory, Geoffrey, and Joanne were her top priority, and she effortlessly became the epitome of a loving and involved mother. Charlene’s open-door policy and genuine interest in the lives of her children’s friends made the Reilly household a warm and welcoming gathering place for all. Her kitchen was always filled with the delicious scents of soups, entrees, and desserts. She was incredibly proud of her Italian heritage.
Everything Charlene did, she did well. Cooking, drawing, singing, and dancing (specifically the jitterbug) filled her days. Music and song could always be heard in her home. Sergio Franchi, Mario Lanza, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Neil Diamond were a few of her favorites. As her children became older and more independent, Charlene rejoined the workforce, working a multitude of jobs on Aquidneck Island, including hostessing, waitressing, and selling shoes as well as working in coffee shops, pottery stores, dental offices, and nursing homes. Regardless of where she worked, Charlene brought a creative and innovative spirit to every one of her jobs. Her quick smile, open mind, and selfless nature allowed her to make countless friends and acquaintances. Later in life, Charlene took on one of her most meaningful roles as a grandmother, or as her grandchildren lovingly called her, “Nonna.” Charlene loved nothing more than spending time with her grandchildren. This included long walks, cuddling and watching movies, arts and crafts, and plenty of hugs and kisses.
Charlene leaves behind her three children, Gregory Reilly, Geoffrey Reilly (Meg), and Joanne Reilly-Chaves (Kevin); her seven grandchildren, Joseph and James Reilly, Jacob and Liam Reilly, and Olivia, Lukas, and Josie Chaves; her brother, Peter E. Vitullo and sister-in-law Ree Vitullo of Florida; her cousin, Teresa Nappi Frech of Connecticut; nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends. She will be missed dearly and carried warmly in our hearts.
A celebration of Charlene’s life will be held at the Wyndham Newport Hotel (240 Aquidneck Ave, Middletown, RI 02842) on Saturday, January 18th at 10:00 am. In lieu of flowers, we ask that in Charlene’s memory, people embody her positive spirit by taking the time to be kind to one another and to love those from all walks of life, especially children.