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Published: Thursday, 2/6/2014

Becky Swaney Kasperzak; 1957-2014: Philanthropist supported fight against hunger

BY MARLENE HARRIS-TAYLOR
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Becky  Kasperzak  Becky Kasperzak
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Becky Swaney Kasperzak, a Perrysburg philanthropist known for her devotion to Maumee Valley Country Day School and for raising money for local charities, died on Sunday from pancreatic cancer. She was 56.

“She battled with breast cancer in 2005 and then she went into remission. In the past two years she had a lot of health issues,” her daughter, Hannah, said.

“It was quick. She never complained and she was a great role model for me and my sister,” she said.

Mrs. Kasperzak was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1957, to Gordon and Irene Swaney in Archbold. Her father was president of Beatrice Foods. Her mother was a registered nurse.

She attended Maumee Valley Country Day School, where she met the love of her life and her future husband.

“We quickly hit it off and we started going steady in the seventh grade,” Mrs. Kasperzak’s husband, Dean, said.

Mr. Kasperzak said they dated off and on through high school and continued to see each other in the summers when they went to college.

“I went to college in Colorado and Vermont, and she went to school in Skidmore in New York,” he said.

Mr. Kasperzak said they were destined to be together because they both came from families in the food business. Her father ran Beatrice Foods and his father founded Calphalon, which makes high-end cookware.

After they married, they lived in Boston for seven years and then returned to Ohio in 1987.

The couple lived in Waterville for about four years before relocating to Perrysburg.

Mr. Kasperzak said great food was one of the things his wife loved and it became a theme throughout their life together.

Mrs. Kasperzak hosted the Taste of the Nation charity event in her home for several years.

Proceeds of the event went to organizations such as the Northwest Ohio Food Bank and Toledo GROWS to help end childhood hunger.

Mrs. Kasperzak was able to host the event one last time last spring before her health began to fail, said her daughter.

“She was incredibly funny. She loved to make people laugh, and she always succeeded,” said her daughter.

Mrs. Kasperzak also devoted much of her time to Maumee Valley Country Day School. She was a member of the school’s board of trustees for 10 years and she and her husband helped to raise money for the school’s capital campaign to build a new upper school.

Maumee Valley honored the family in 2011 by naming part of the new facility the Kasperzak Center.

Mrs. Kasperzak adored animals and had two dogs and four cats in the family home. She volunteered and served on the board of the Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation in Whitehouse that provides medical care for injured and orphaned wild animals.

“I started volunteering there around 2006. My mom passed down her love of animals to me and my sister and she started volunteering shortly after. When she got involved with something she made friends with everyone,” her daughter said.

Surviving are husband Dean; daughters Hanna and Maude Kasperzak, and sisters Laura Orser and Allyn Orwig.

In her final act of party planning, Mrs. Kasperzak designed and created the menu for a celebration of her life in Perrysburg, from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

“She planned the menu and picked the space and the time. It will be ham salad sandwiches with the crust cut off and lobster rolls,” said her daughter.

The family suggests tributes to the Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Education.

Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, handled the arrangements.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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