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COMODECA, CHARLOTTE

COMODECA, CHARLOTTE (1 Aug. 1940 - 11 Feb. 1993) achieved a distinguished record as a volunteer who collected and distributed aid to various Native American groups, Indian Reservations and the inner-city needy.

Born outside Birmingham, Alabama, to Albert and Ores Hancock, Charlotte received her Native American heritage through both parents, counting Cherokee and Seneca Indians among her ancestors. She was 16 when her family settled in Cleveland where she graduated from West Technical High School. Charlotte married James Comodeca on August 1, 1959.

Comodeca began her career as a volunteer by meeting the needs of local Native Americans (see AMERICAN INDIANS). She expanded her efforts into a year-long drive, helping needy Native Americans locally and nationally. She organized annual mitten drives with various school groups, mailing boxes of donated mittens and coats to the Rosebud Reservation in the Dakotas. Comodeca also obtained enough dental equipment from a retiring dentist to start a clinic at Rosebud.

Comodeca helped start a pre-school program at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Parma, and served as an administrator. She also opened her home to international students attending Baldwin Wallace College who were unable to return home for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

The Comodecas had four children: Theresa (Schmalz), Lisa (Nickle), James and Christopher. A Roman Catholic, Charlotte Comodeca is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. After her death the Lake Erie Native American Council (LENAC) held a Pow Wow in which she was honored, the first time a non-full-blood Indian had been recognized.