October 15, 1964 - July 9, 2020
CHATHAM - Kara Leanne Sissell was born October 15, 1964, in Boston and through the compassionate guidance of Boston Childrens' Services, she was adopted by Sherleene Funk Sissell and William E. Sissell Jr. on December 15, 1964. Her family and friends in Chatham called her Leanne, but because her name was difficult to say in Spanish, she went by Kara professionally and in her travels. Kara Leanne died in Chatham on July 9, 2020.
After living in Somerset, her family moved to Chatham in 1967. The ocean, ponds, bays, marshes, and beaches of Chatham and the surrounding area became her favorite stomping grounds and the places to which she returned throughout her life, no matter where else in the world she had been, to enjoy time on her own, with family, and long-time friends. She attended the Chatham School System, graduating in 1982.
Leanne was passionate about travel and languages, fueled first by her time in Costa Rica, under the sponsorship of American Field Service, the summer after graduating from high school. In an interview in The Cape Cod Chronicle in 2008, she "...credited her education in Chatham and exposure to other cultures through AFS for her love of travel and languages." She later spent a year at Windsor College in Sevilla, Spain, during her undergraduate career at George Washington University, from which she graduated with degrees in Spanish and Political Science in 1986.
Leanne was fortunate to join her love of travel, languages and adventure with her professional life, visiting more than 17 countries for work and for pleasure and developing fluency in Spanish and a working knowledge of German and Portuguese. After graduating from GWU, she spent five years as the Features Editor for the Caracas Daily News in Caracas, Venezuela, covering Venezuela's first family, visits by notable dignitaries, and arts and entertainment in the capital. After returning to the United States in 1993, she joined the staff of The Insider Press in Washington, DC., as a writer for its Environmental Newsletter, covering national and international legal, legislative, and other critical issues related to the environment. In 1996, she moved to New York to join the staff of Chemical Week Magazine, rising to the position of Senior News Editor. While there, she continued to cover environmental issues, but with a focus on the petro-chemical industries in Mexico, and Central and South America. Her writing also appeared in Foreign Affairs Magazine and other publications with an international focus. Throughout her journalistic career, she earned accolades and the respect of her colleagues and those she wrote about for her honesty, integrity, clarity, and insight.
With changes in print journalism, Leanne left Chemical Week and Manhattan to live in Rockaway Beach, pursuing freelance work while providing life care for a friend. While in Rockaway, she developed a passion for gardening, spending hours in the family's garden and later in the community garden. Kara was also known in the neighborhood for her compassion and care for abandoned animals, adopting her dog, Spot, and more than a couple of casts, one of which ended up with her father in Chatham, and immersing herself in the life of her neighborhood. Her bond to the neighborhood was forged in part by the experience of weathering Hurricane Sandy together.
In early 2020, Leanne returned home to Chatham. She spent time enjoying the company of friends she'd held onto since high school, indulged her love of reading, nurtured the garden she shared with her father, found a few new interests, and spent hours walking the beaches along the oceans, bays, ponds, and marshes that captured her heart as a child and were never far from her mind, no matter where she was.
Kara Leanne is predeceased by her mother and her sister, Palma Leigh. She is survived by her father, William, her brother, Earl, and sister-in-law, Sonia, and her nieces, Elena and Margot, as well as a collection of dear friends scattered across the country and the globe whom she gathered over a lifetime, always loved, and with whom she never lost touch. She is already missed.
Burial will be private but a memorial service will be held at a later date. For those wishing to make memorial gifts, Kara Leanne wishes that you consider donating to the Brewster Chapter of the Animal Rescue League, 3981 Main Street, Brewster, MA 02631. For online condolences, please visit www.nickersonfunerals.com.