Alicia Arizin Sterling, 63, of Haverford, a nurse, mother, and community volunteer, died Monday, Feb. 4, of cancer at her home.
Tall and statuesque, Mrs. Sterling stood out as a hostess, athlete, organizer, caregiver, and friend, her family said.
She grew up in Springfield, Delaware County, the daughter of Maureen and Paul Arizin. Her father played basketball for Villanova University from 1947 to 1950 before being drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1950. He went on to become one of the great basketball players of the 1950s, leading the NBA in scoring during the 1952 and 1957 seasons. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978.
A natural athlete like her father, Mrs. Sterling excelled in basketball and tennis at Cardinal O’Hara High School. She graduated in 1973.
She attended the University of Delaware before transferring to Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated in 1975 and immediately began her career as a registered nurse in the emergency room. She stayed until starting a family.
In the late 1990s, she reentered nursing as a specialist in senior care, working at several nursing facilities, including Waverly Heights in Gladwyne.
“When my mom moved there, Alicia would always go into my mom’s room and just sit down and talk to her,” said Robin Viola in an online condolence book.
In 1984, she married Paul D. Somers Jr. As a young mother, she shuttled her two sons to sports events, but found she wasn’t content to sit in the stands. Instead, she volunteered to help coach soccer at the Haverford School. “She was ahead of her time,” said brother Dennis.
Mrs. Sterling enjoyed collecting the works of emerging artists. She served as co-chair of the Haverford School’s fine art and crafts show known as Merry Mart, which was a major school fundraiser.
Mrs. Sterling was a longtime member and former president of the Women’s Board of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She also served for many years as a committee member of the Philadelphia Antiques and Art Show.
Mrs. Sterling and her first husband divorced in the late 1990s. She shared the love of art with Charles Sterling, a respected Philadelphia antiques dealer, whom she married in 2003. He died in 2008 at age 61.
A busy volunteer, Mrs. Sterling put her nursing experience to work at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she pushed to improve patient care as a member and president of the Board of Women Visitors.
Even illness couldn’t keep her from caring for others, her family said. Last year, while being treated for cancer, she began a program to teach Scrabble to fifth and sixth graders at Drexel Neumann Academy, a charter school in Chester.
She enjoyed reading, world travel, and spending time with family and friends.
“She was the constant force behind events — organizing birthdays, dinners, weekends at the Jersey Shore, and endless family get-togethers,” her brother Tim Arizin said.
Besides her brothers, she is survived by sons Paul D. Somers III and Max A. Somers; stepchildren Elizabeth Sterling and Charles “Beau” Sterling; brothers Michael and Christopher; and 12 nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated on Saturday, Feb. 9.