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The Dr. Rita C. Schiavo Legacy


Dr. Rita C. Schiavo is the reason the Schiavo Library exists in Strathmere, New Jersey.  It is her legacy to the small, seashore town where she and her family spent countless pleasant hours over the course of many years. 


Schiavo was a remarkably gifted and accomplished woman during a time in American history when her achievements were considered uncommon for many women.  This is her story.


Rita C. Schiavo was born November 20, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She graduated from South Philadelphia High School for Girls, earned a BS in Education from Temple University in 1946, an MA in Education in 1946, and a J.D. from Temple University Law School in 1951.


She worked for the US Military during World War II, and at various positions while becoming one of the first women to earn a Doctor of Laws degree from Temple University Law School, evening division.  For a time, she served as Administrator of the Philadelphia office for CBS, was Director of the Franklin School for Technology and Science, and later was Administrator at the Giuffre Medical Center.


Schiavo had a life-long interest in education and was instrumental in bringing the DARE Program (substance abuse prevention project) to Philadelphia’s public and parochial schools.  In addition, she was instrumental in having a neighborhood Public Library replace the old South 7th. Street Police Station.


Also involved in community activism and politics, Schiavo helped create the 3rd. Police District Community Advisory Council and a local Town Watch chapter.  She served the 2nd. Ward Republican Executive Committee as Treasurer and legal advisor and was a 2nd. Ward Republican Committeeperson for over 25 years.  She also supported the Republican National Committee.


When Schiavo died on September 17, 2005, she bequeathed the resources of her island estate for the establishment of a private, nonprofit library cum community center cum museum in the hamlet of Strathmere, New Jersey. 


In spring 2009, Dr. Schiavo’s generosity and vision become reality with the official opening of the Schiavo Library at 801 South Commonwealth Avenue – the former site of her family vacation residence.

[In 2004, Dr. Schiavo was predeceased by her husband of 20 years, Louis J. Sciambi.]


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