Mary D. Zdinak 1927-2013
Mary D. Zdinak was born Mary Jean Donovan on January 12, 1927. New York City was paralyzed by heavy snow that morning when her mother Jeanette went into labor. The obstetrician was summoned to their Staten Island home, but Mary simply could not wait for him. Luckily her father, Florence T. Donovan, was also a doctor and managed to usher her into the world without incident. Mary followed her elder brother Ray into the family and preceded twins Tim and Tom, making her the sole sister in a house full of boys.
It was the Great Depression when Mary entered Our Lady of Good Counsel grammar school. At Curtis High School she blossomed into an avid swimmer and served as a lifeguard in the summers. At the height of World War II it was off to the College of New Rochelle in the New York suburbs. In those days the only way from Staten Island to Manhattan and beyond was via ferry. Mary "dayhopped" to school, taking a ferry to a subway to a commuter train every day. In the summers she traveled down to her aunt's farm in Maryland where she taught swimming to the local kids. At CNR she earned the nickname "Scottie" and a degree in English, enabling her to master crossword puzzles and correct her children's grammar the rest of her life.
Her first job was at a bank down on Wall Street. Once, when she wanted to get away from a coworker she didn't get along with, she feigned fainting spells which won her a transfer to a better ventilated station. Working in a government patent office she and her friends pooled the time allotted for their coffee and lunch breaks to allow them to take a ferry ride across the Hudson to New Jersey. The bosses were not impressed by Mary's creative time management.
On Valentines Day 1950 she met William Zdinak on a blind date in Grand Central Station. Bill, a WWII veteran and up-and-coming Madison Avenue illustrator soon proposed and she became Mary Zdinak on April 7, 1951. The newlyweds' first home was on 10th Street in Greenwich Village. With their first daughter Mary Anne on the way they moved back to Staten Island for a spell.
In 1955 Bill and Mary joined the exodus for the suburbs and moved to Wilton, CT. Their first son, Zackery (Mark) was born that year. They lived in a couple of different houses before putting down roots on a back road called Raymond Lane. The rest of their children – Alan, Bill Jr., Andrea, Jonathan and Matthew – were born there. Mary and family became fixtures in the Our Lady of Fatima parish and the kids attended OLF school.
As was the rage in the 1960s they installed a built-in swimming pool which Mary graced with her splendid aquatic form. She was a regular on the local Bridge circuit and a passionate gardener, planting rose bushes and big beds of mums around the property.
Mary had learned to drive in a Cadillac and that spoiled her for life. Her succession of Caddies was one of the defining elements of her personal style, like her blaze of curly red hair. Proud of her Irish heritage, she visited the Emerald Isle in 1969 and returned with a lumbering Irish Wolfhound, Cara, who became the family mascot for a decade. "Scottie" was a lifelong dog lover, but Cara was the towering exception amid a succession of poodles and terriers.
In 1975 the Zdinaks moved to Old Greenwich, CT and took up residence in a massive Cape Codder with Long Island Sound lapping at the back porch. Mary's kids grew up, went to college and moved off around the country. After Bill suddenly passed away in 1993 Mary moved into the Bishop Curtis Homes behind St. Catherine of Siena, their church throughout the Greenwich years. She worked in the parish office where her bubbly personality and exquisite penmanship were much cherished. She retired from the church staff in 2010 and was awarded the Saint Augustine Medal of Service.
Mary is survived by children Mary Anne Zdinak and her husband James Ryan of Newtown, Zackary Mark Zdinak and Robert Audet of Flagstaff, AZ, Alan Zdinak of New York, NY, William Zdinak Jr and his wife Andrea of Centennial, CO, Andrea Zdinak Andretta and her husband Gaeton of Milford, Jonathan Zdinak of Greenwich and Matthew Liam Zdinak of Ferndale, MI, as well as grandchildren Callie Rose Ryan of Baltimore, and William, Ashley and Taid Zdinak of Centennial, CO and her brother Timothy Florence Donovan of Westfield, NJ and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers please make donations in Mary's memory to:
Greenwich Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation Fund, c/o Greenwich Hospital Foundation, 35 River Road, Cos Cob, CT 06807,
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids at www.tobaccofreekids.org
Nathaniel Witherell Patient Trust Fund, 70 Parsonage Road, Greenwich, CT 06830.