In Memory

Irit "Erie" Arbisser (Shockey)

Irit Erie Arbisser (Shockey)

Erie Shockey passed away, quietly and with dignity, and surrounded by the warm embrace of her family, on March 15, 2017, after an extended and courageous battle with cancer. Erie truly was one of a kind, and she left an indelible and uplifting impression on everyone who had the privilege to know her. Raised in a proud Jewish family, Erie integrated the Jewish ethic of Tikkun Olam -- to heal the world -- into every aspect of her life. Virtually every family member and friend can point to a time when Erie's wise insights and guidance, always delivered in a straight-forward manner, but with tender care and her irreverent sense of humor, helped them cope with a difficult or challenging situation. Her profound wish is that everyone who's life she touched will carry on that practice and "pay it forward" by reaching out to help others in need. That would be her greatest and proudest legacy, to treat every human being and living creature with kindness and respect. Erie first arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, on February 20, 1953, full of spunk and beautiful blonde curls.

Following her family's move to Houston, Texas in 1967, she attended Bellaire High School, then the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with honors in 1974. Drawn, perhaps, by the possibility of finding the love of her life, she migrated north to Washington, D. C., and attended Georgetown University Law Center, receiving her J. D. degree in 1977.

While the law would not prove to be her chosen path as a career, she did attract the attention of another Georgetown law student, Charlie Shockey, and they fell in love and married on July 9, 1978. Erie worked for four years in the Federal Government, then found the greatest joy in her life with the birth of her sons, Nathan in 1982 and David in 1986. Erie set aside her legal career for motherhood while living in Northern Virginia, a calling for which she proved to be supremely skilled, then chose to pursue a new career in social work, receiving her M.S.W. from Old Dominion University in 1990.

For the next ten years, Erie dedicated herself to counseling disabled students in the Fairfax County Public Schools, while raising Nathan and David and providing the glue that kept the family intact and enabling the Shockey crew to enjoy many wonderful vacations, especially in the national parks and at baseball games, along with annual Arbisser family gatherings at Passover and Thanksgiving. After a quarter century living in Northern Virginia and enjoying life in the D.C. area, the lure of the Golden State called, and Erie, Charlie, Nate, and Dave headed west in 2001, with Nate attending Stanford and the family settling in Sacramento. With the boys growing up and out, Erie decided that she needed to a new place to practice her social work and guidance skills, and she found that place at Women's Empowerment in downtown Sacramento.

Working as part of a closely knit staff under the wise guidance of Lisa Culp at a start-up community service organization, Erie found her new calling and dedicated herself to helping women who were homeless, at risk of homelessness, and often the victims of abuse. The extent to which she offered wise counsel and guidance was truly remarkable, and, over the course of ten years, she helped many hundreds of women and their families to find safety, security, and a newfound self-respect. With Nate off to graduate school in New York and Dave graduating from U. C. Santa Barbara and beginning his own career in Sacramento, Erie decided to take a breather, retiring in 2012.

The dream of relaxation and travel, sadly, were cut short in December 2012, when she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the cancer she had survived back in 1992. Unwilling to yield to cancer, and thanks to the exceptional care of her doctors at U. C. Davis, including Dr. Helen Chew, Dr. Nathan Fairman, and Dr. David Copenhaver, Erie bravely fought on for more than four years. Erie and her family also owe an enormous thanks to the U. C. Davis Hospice team, including RN extraordinaire Laurie Aloisio, tender caretaker Linda Patterson, and volunteer Judy Tanner. The entire Hospice team enabled her to live in comfort at home and to survive long enough to see both Nate and Dave marry the wonderful women in their lives, Felicia Yong and Mandi Peterson.

Nothing gave Erie greater pleasure than seeing her two fine sons commit to the special partners who now complete their lives. Erie is survived by her loving and dedicated husband, Charlie, and by her sons Nathan (Felicia) and David (Mandi), by her parents, Rafael and Dvorah Arbisser of Houston, Texas, her brother Amir Arbisser (Lisa) of Fort Lee, N. J., and Sarasota, Florida, her brother Aton Arbisser (Norma) of Los Angeles, her wonderful nephew Micah Arbisser (Lisa) and their three delightful children (M-S-O) of New York, and her five stirling nieces, Talya Gluskin (Joel) of Houston, Lily Arbisser of Queens, N. Y., Ariel Arbisser of Ithaca, N. Y., Amelia Arbisser of Portland, Oregon, and Ilana Arbisser of Palo Alto, California, in addition to many dear cousins in New York and Israel.

Erie's family also extends a warm embrace to her many devoted friends in Sacramento, Washington, D. C., Houston, and elsewhere. Please honor Erie's life by practicing random acts of kindness and Tikkun Olam. For those wishing to make a contribution, please consider a gift to Women's Empowerment, 1590 North A St., Sacramento, CA 95811. Following private funeral services, Erie's family will cherish her memory before Passover in Texas on April 9. A memorial service for family and friends to celebrate Erie's remarkable life will be held on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, at 3:00 p. m. at Women's Empowerment, 1590 North A St., Sacramento, CA, 95811. The promise Erie and Charlie made to one another nearly 40 years ago remains true: "I believe when I fall in love with you, it will be forever."