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W.Va. fire victim remembered for sense of humor

May 01, 2008

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Even confined to bed with heart problems, Carol Pospisil had a sense of humor.

Her sister, Eileen Leisure said that when Pope Benedict XVI visited Washington, D.C., Pospisil's hospice pastor, "Dr. Dave," took Pospisil's rosary beads with him to the capital to get them blessed by the Pope as he rode past in the Popemobile.

As Pospisil watched the Pope and the throngs of people on television, she called Dr. Dave on his cell phone to give him a message: She could not see him in the crowd.

Leisure said Dr. Dave told her "Carol was in fine spirits," Leisure said.

Pospisil, 66, died Tuesday in an early morning fire at her home at 161 Palm Lane in eastern Morgan County, about 10 miles east of Berkeley Springs.

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Leisure said she was told that her sister, whose heart problems kept her in bed most of the time, was found at the house's carport entrance and that she had died of smoke inhalation.

Leisure said she did not know how Pospisil got to the carport entrance from her bedroom, which was at the opposite end of the house. She had a wheelchair but she did not use it, Leisure said.

Patrick Barker, the West Virginia Assistant State Fire Marshal, said Tuesday it appeared the fire began in the back of the home near a bedroom and that there were a number of oxygen tanks in the house.

Leisure and her husband, John Leisure, live nearby and helped care for Pospisil, who also was under the care of Hospice of the Eastern Panhandle, Eileen Leisure said.

Pospisil had fallen often and just last Friday was taken by ambulance to WVU Hospitals-East City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., after a fall in her bedroom. She had no broken bones and she was released the same day, Leisure said.

"She felt good Monday," Leisure said.

Eileen Leisure, who is recovering from a heart attack, said she talked with Pospisil on the phone on Monday. The conversation was routine, she said, just a chance for the sisters to find out how the other was feeling.

Pospisil grew up in Baltimore, Md., where her 90-year-old mother still resides, Leisure said. She had lived in the house where she died since 1979.

Hilton Chesterfield, her son from her first marriage, said in a phone interview from his home in Texas Wednesday that his mother graduated from Eastern High School and attended the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She went to work for General Motors in New Jersey and retired from the company in Martinsburg.

"She was a big shot secretary," Chesterfield said.

Chesterfield said his mother had been ill for about seven years, "ever since she retired," he said.

Leisure said Pospisil had been under hospice care for about two years. She needed bypass surgery but did not want to have the operation, so she had stents inserted, Leisure said.

Before she became ill, Leisure said, Pospisil liked to garden, swim in her pool and travel.

"She traveled the world," she said.

Chesterfield said his mother traveled everywhere in the U.S., all over Europe, South America, Mexico, Egypt and Australia and her house was filled with items from her travels.

"We traveled a lot together," Chesterfield said, "and on my 16th birthday I had a choice."

The choice his mother gave him was to go to Europe with her on a vacation or to get his own sports car. Chesterfield chose the car.

He said he did not have a permanent license, so "I drove it in the driveway and then sold it in four months and made $800."

In addition to her son, her sister and her mother, Pospisil is survived by two brothers, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Leisure said.

"She was a good sister," Leisure said.

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