NORWICH, Conn. - Four days following her 93rd birthday, Rita Klajbor Zuzel passed away peacefully on January 24, 2014, with her son Timothy and daughter-in-law Jeanne at her side. Until the past few years, Mrs. Zuzel led an active life filled with family, church and volunteer activities in Coventry, Conn., where she and her late husband Stanley had lived since 1964.
Born in Dunkirk, NY, to Joseph M. Klajbor, Sr. and Susan Schrantz Klajbor, Rita was the third of four children. She married the love of her life, Stanley W. Zuzel of Buffalo, NY, in July 1941.
During World War II, Stanley served in the U.S. Navy and Rita managed the Danahy-Faxon grocery store in Silver Creek, NY. The Zuzel family lived in Silver Creek, NY, where they raised three children: Suanne, Martin, and Timothy. Rita was active with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, the Parent Teacher Association, and Cub Scouts.
The Zuzels moved to Coventry, Conn., in 1964. Rita was president of the St. Germain Guild of St. Mary's Church. She was vice-chairman of the Democratic Town Committee and worked the polls at election time for many years in addition to being an active member of the Democratic Party in Connecticut.
She volunteered her time and talents at the local Thrift Store where she took great pride in dressing the store windows and helping local charities. Her baked goods and hand made goods fed and clothed many in the community, in addition to her family members. Her ready wit and helping hand made her a familiar face in Coventry.
She was predeceased by her parents, her sister Dorothea and her brother Joseph, Jr. as well as Stanley, her devoted husband of 66 years, her son Martin and infant granddaughter Katie. She is survived by loving children and their spouses: Timothy and Jeanne Crosby Zuzel of Norwich, Conn.; Suanne Zuzel and Gerhardt Thamm of Fernandina Beach, Fla; Tina Zuzel Preston (widow of Martin) of Concord, NH. Also mourning her passing are her grandchildren Joseph and Joy Zuzel of Willimantic, Conn., and Elizabeth Zuzel of Petaluma, Calif. The joy of Rita's last year was her great granddaughter Maribelle Ellen Zuzel, who celebrated her first birthday on January 25, 2014. She is also survived by her younger sister Adeline Klajbor Clark of Dunkirk, NY and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 13 at St. Mary's Church in Coventry, Conn. followed by a private burial at the convenience of family. The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Incite Wellness Center, 208 Otrobando Avenue, Norwich, CT 06360 where they will be used to treat cancer patients free of charge through their Connected Hearts program. To share a condolence or a story with the family please visit: www.cummings-gagnefh.