TRANSFER, PA. – Mr. Max E. Ciscell Jr., 59, of 63 Birchwood Drive, passed away at 1:49 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, following a brief illness resulting from a long battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Congestive Heart Failure.
Mr. Ciscell was born in Sharon, Pa., on Jan. 1, 1952, the son of the late Max E. Ciscell Sr. and Lois (Livermore) Ciscell.
Max graduated from Brookfield High School in 1970 and began working at what was the former Sharon Steel Corporation.
He worked there for 18 years and then went on to become a police officer, serving for both the Wheatland and Shenango Township Police Departments.
In 1988, Max began pursuing a college education. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Youngstown State University in 1993 and later continued his education by completing a Master’s in Administration of Justice from Mercyhurst College in 1998 through the Juvenile Judges Commission of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ciscell worked for the Department of Juvenile Probation for the last 20 years. He was hired as a Juvenile Probation Officer for Mercer County and transitioned into the position of Community Liaison Officer in 2007.
Max had also been influential in preventative services to the local school districts through presentations to students, parents, and administrators through programs such as “Anti Bullying” and “Internet Safety.” He spear-headed the Graffiti Busters Team for removal of graffiti within the community.
In recent years, he worked diligently with juveniles and community members to develop and maintain the Community Gardens through the valley which he was very passionate about.
A highly respected martial artist who is recognized by some of the most prestigious martial arts instructors and organizations throughout the United States and the world, Max began training in the martial arts in 1972.
He trained at the F.H. Buhl Club under Grand Master Joseph Bonacci and continued until the end of his life. He taught at the YSU Karate Club. He was the co-founder of the American Institute of Martial Arts and eventually attained the rank of Hanshi, then 10th degree Black Belt, the highest rank that can be achieved in the martial arts.
He is one of the few people to have earned master level black belt status in multiple styles of martial arts.
In 2002 he was inducted into the Karate Hall of Fame. As a sensei he inspired a host of children and adults to participate and continue in the Karate, many becoming lifelong practitioners and experts in the martial arts themselves.
Max was always a tough competitor.
His accomplishments include winning a full contact fight with the son of the founder of Kyokushikai.
He was an avid participant in the local martial arts tournaments winning many and eventually becoming a qualified USKA and AAU international judge.
His martial arts training carried over into his service as a police officer serving as Deputy Commander of the Police Self Defense Institute.
He was also a regular participant in the Pennsylvania and Ohio Police Olympics and he conducted realistic concealed weapons training and police defensive tactics with a number of local police forces.
In 1989, he received a Medal of Valor Award for Heroism, presented by the Police Self Defense Instructors International.
He was a long time member of the United States Karate Association, International Federation of JuJutsuans, International Brotherhood of Martial Artists, Bonacci International and the Kwanmuzendokai.
Max was a registered black belt with the World Union of Karatedo Organizations and also served on the USA Karate Federation - Kwanmukan Senior Masters Caucus that is part of the United States Olympic Committee.
He loved watching Steelers games in his reserved seat at Billy’s Black & Gold, loved golf and woodworking.
Surviving are his wife, Colleen F. (O’Toole) Ciscell, with whom he had just celebrated 25 wonderful years of marriage; daughters Mandy Ciscell of Hermitage, Pa., Nikki Leyde and husband David C. of Sharpsville, Pa., Molly Ciscell of Pittsburgh, and Heather Gerlachof Sharon, Pa.; nine grandchildren, Mia and Macie Aley, Emily, Jenna and Maggie Leyde, Bryan Cornelious II, and Garret, Landon and Slade Hoffman; a sister, Marjorie Dirgo (Jim) of Sharon; and a brother, Merle (Robin) Ciscell of Texas.
Several sisters- and brothers-in-law and numerous nieces and nephews will sorely miss Max. He loved them all deeply.
His parents and two brothers, Paul Ciscell and Carl Livermore, preceded him in death.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Shenango Valley Community Gardens, c/o Tom Amundsen 162 Greenwood Drive, Hermitage, PA 16148.
A service will be held at Grace Chapel in Hermitage at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011.
Friends may call on Monday, Nov. 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Stephen J. Sherman Funeral Home, 2201 Highland Road in Hermitage.