Kleona Corsini (aka Dr. Kleona Rigney) will always be remembered by friends and family for her optimism, intellect and sense of adventure. She was an accomplished doctor, a loving mother and grandmother, and she was an inspirational woman to all who knew her. She passed away on August 16, 2018, at age 96.
Kleo was born in Philadelphia, PA, to Elinor Leaf Brown and Elbert Kleone Brown. Driven and ambitious, Kleo graduated from medical school at University of Pennsylvania in 1947, where she was one of only 4 female medical students in the graduating class.
After a residency in Ohio, Kleo moved to the Bay Area where she completed a masters in Public Health at UC Berkeley and became Board-Certified in Preventive Medicine. She then held several positions, including at the Alameda County and Contra Costa County Public Health Departments.
In the early sixties, she met her late husband, psychologist and author, Raymond Corsini, and moved to Hawaii to, in her own words, “start a new life.” Once settled into their new home in East Honolulu, she joined the Hawaii State Health Department as Chief of the Chronic Disease Branch where she served for 24 years. Kleo was most recognized for her long and steady campaign to make Hawaii a healthier, smoke-free society.
Kleo was always curious and eager to learn. Musically gifted, she loved playing classical music on her piano, but also enjoyed playing guitar, drums and recorder. Her father owned a dance studio, and in addition to teaching Kleo tap and traditional dance styles, he passed on his athletic nature — she swam, practiced yoga, and played tennis doubles well into her senior years.
“My greatest accomplishments in life are my beautiful children and grandchildren.” Kleo is survived by three children with her first husband, the late Robert M. Rigney: Mike Rigney, Roberta Rigney, Jon (Tricia) Rigney, her step-daughter Evelyn (Tony) Alcorn, grandchildren Tamara, Lauren and Kai, as well as extended family both in Hawaii and the Mainland.
A devoted nurturer, Kleo adored all animals and especially cherished her beloved pets: her mischievous beagle Huli, and sweet Cairn Terrier Robbie. She was a supporter of the Humane Society, PETA and various environmental groups. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Hawaiian Humane Society would be appreciated.
Kleo’s advice for a fulfilling and meaningful life: “Enjoy life, be good to people, be helpful and contribute to others.” A private memorial will be held.
Notice #: 0001139105-01