Tuesday, May 23, 2017
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Susan K. Zurawski (1955-2017): Fund-raiser, event planner helped many

Susan K. Zurawski, who persevered as she encouraged donation to a variety of causes charitable and civic — rowing and music and education — died Monday in ProMedica Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. She was 62.

Ms. Zurawski of Monclova Township had metastatic ovarian cancer.

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Zurawski

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“She believed in her heart she could beat cancer, and she tried her darnedest,” said Diane Mesteller, a friend and a nurse, who helped her as the illness progressed. “It’s heartbreaking, but it overcame her.”

Ms. Zurawski was the event chairman for the June 3 swing dance competition at the Toledo Club, a benefit to aid preservation efforts at the club.

“She was such a perfectionist. She was a visionary,” her sister Mary Ellen said. “If there was an event, she took it to the next level.”

Ms. Zurawski was executive director of the Toledo Public Schools Foundation from its revival in 1999 by then-Superintendent Merrill Grant until several years ago.

“She had exemplary fund-raising skills,” said Deborah Barnett, a former school board member and a former president of the TPS Foundation Board.

Ms. Zurawski’s persistence paid dividends to her clients.

“In the world of fund-raising, Toledo is a very giving community, but people get busy,” Ms. Barnett said. “We could count on Sue following up and raising the type of money we needed to provide our students with scholarships.”

Mary Ellen Zurawski added: “She was a bulldog. She would not take ‘No’ for an answer.”

Recent clients included the Toledo Symphony and the Toledo Choral Society.

She was born March 1, 1955, to Nancy and Dan Zurawski. The family were Gesu Church parishioners and lived in the neighborhood. She went to grade school at Gesu and graduated from St. Ursula Academy.

She received a bachelor’s degree and a master of business administration degree from the University of Toledo. In the 1980s she became marketing manager and then development director for CitiFest Inc., which organized such downtown events as the weekly Rallies by the River and holiday fireworks.

She started her own business in 1991 and, years before she became a master rower, was a marketing and development coordinator for the Toledo Rowing Club. She helped attract grants toward renovation of the Valentine Theatre and sought sponsorships for the annual Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association circus.

“She loved the city of Toledo,” her sister said.

Ms. Zurawski liked to walk at Wildwood Preserve Metropark and to row on the Maumee River. Yet her work took center stage, family and friends said.

“She paved her own road, she made her decisions, and took care of herself,” Mrs. Mesteller said. “She was very proud of her accomplishments. Her mind was going, going, going until the day she died.”

Surviving are her sisters Judy Zurawski and Mary Ellen Zurawski.

Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. today at Gesu Church, with visitation after 9 a.m. Arrangements are by the Thomas I. Wisniewski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to St. Ursula Academy, Gesu Church, Schedel Arboretum & Gardens, the Toledo Club Foundation, Toledo Choral Society, or the Toledo Symphony.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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