Leina L. "Lee" Zielinski, 85, a retired deputy clerk of Toledo Municipal Court who made Christmas crafts a year-round project, died Monday in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania, from complications of a fall about three weeks ago in her West Toledo home.
After 22 years as a deputy clerk, she retired in 1992 -- as did the man she worked for the longest, Harry Kessler, who became clerk of Toledo Municipal Court in 1978 after six years as the city's mayor.
Mrs. Zielinski worked afternoons and nights for years. She often was based at the Safety Building and got to know many police officers.
"I remember her mentioning affidavits and getting things ready for court," said Sister Mary Zielinski, a stepdaughter.
Her duties included recording all court-related matters in the clerk's journal and keeping track of the tickets, affidavits, warrants, and cases as they progressed through the system. "It was a very important job," said Lisa Tatro, a friend and co-worker. "That job just suited her."
Mrs. Zielinski was hired in 1970 by then-clerk Ray Block.
From Dec. 26 on, she prepared for Christmas by making crafts. Plastic canvas with stitching was her usual medium. "It was something she worked on all year," Sister Mary said. "She did a little village with five or six buildings and a lot of details, and Santa on the roof, and a bell in the church steeple. She really had fun with it, but it took lots of time."
She made Christmas crafts for co-workers. For Mrs. Tatro, she made enough decorations to dress a small tree.
She worked weekends for a time at the United Dairy Franklin Park store, where Mrs. Tatro was manager. When Mrs. Tatro was hired to work at the clerk of court's office -- a job that didn't call for a uniform -- she found out about another skill of Mrs. Zielinski. "She could sew, and she could make clothes. When I first went to work there, she made three or four outfits," Mrs. Tatro said. "I was probably the best-dressed person there."
Mrs. Zielinski was born in Butler, Ind., to Hazel and Archie Humbarger. Her father had a farm near Hamilton, Ind., and she graduated from high school in Edgerton, Ohio. She and her first husband, the late Al Pierce, had bakeries at several locations around Toledo.
She enjoyed decorating the cakes.
"She did some beautiful icing roses and baby shower cakes," Sister Mary said.
Mrs. Zielinski and her husband, Robert, liked driving vacations to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and trips to Branson, Mo. Their Alaskan cruise more than a decade ago was especially memorable.
She also paid summertime visits to Mrs. Tatro at her residence in Lake Okeechobee, Fla.
"She was a real good friend," Mrs. Tatro said.
Surviving are her husband, Robert T. Zielinski, whom she married March 19, 1977; son, Rick Pierce; stepdaughters, Sister Mary Zielinski and Laura Zielinski; two grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe, where there will be visitation from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.