Mary Donovan Zdinak

January 12, 1927February 10, 2013
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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

Nathaniel Witherell Patient Trust Fund, 70 Parsonage Road, Greenwich, CT 06830.



  • Memorial Mass Saturday, February 23, 2013
  • Visiting Hours Saturday, February 23, 2013


  • Interment

Mary Donovan Zdinak

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February 10, 2014

Such a wonderful lady and an amazing family. I had the pleasure of staying with the them in Greenwich many years ago and despite the time and distance, the whole family will always have a special place in my heart. I am sad to hear of the passing of Mary and extend my belated condolences to my never forgotten friend Andrea and all her family.

Michael MacMahon, Dublin, Ireland.

Gilbert D'Souza

February 26, 2013

Dear Andrea, Mary Anne, Callie Rose and all of you children and grand children of Mary and Bill

I meant to write this on Friday to let you know that I wouldn't be able to join in the Mass of Christian Burial for Mum because of commitments at my own parish. I wanted very much to pay my little tribute to a lady who was a dear friend, who lived life to the full, with zest and energy, who was was very proud of notching up the years and decades of her life's tally. Your Mum, Mary, was one of a kind.
May I offer my condolences with the assurance of a prayer of thanks for her life. And how can I not remember Dad who did the only portrait of me in existence!

Barbara Weltz

February 23, 2013

Mary was the first person I met when I joined St. Catherine's Church. We took to each other immediately. When I told her I was a Eucharistic Minister..she knew exactly where I was needed..and practically put me there..It was a joy to see her every week and give her the Eucharist..TV going and all..She knew her mind and she spoke it. I will always remember our time together...her red hair and those red shoes that I have of hers..Peace rest on those who mourn her lose.. Barbara

Kate Donovan

February 22, 2013

We will always remember and cherish Aunt Mary Jean's vibrant, warm and loving spirit! We will hold her in our hearts forever. With love and condolences,
Kate, Tim, Malcolm, and Alder (The Donovan-Cook family)

Jacqui Donovan

February 22, 2013

We are so sad to lose Aunt Mary Jean. Our thoughts are with you and we will see you on Saturday. We love you! Jacqui and Pete

Roger Minton

February 21, 2013

To Mary's Family,
Your mom was a patient with us at the Tully Center for Pulmonary Rehab.
We loved her. She was so full of life and had a great attitude and she will be missed!
Roger Minton

February 21, 2013

Zdinak family, you are in our thoughts and prayers at this time. My mother, Claire Collins, and yours were great pals and I was lucky enough to share in some of their laughter and good times. Thank you for putting such great photos on this site; they capture the spirit and sometimes mischief that was so much a part of her. Sarah (Sally) Collins Beeler , Peter Collins, and our spouses.

Mary Robinson

February 21, 2013

We were saddened to learn of Aunt Mary's passing from my Dad and Mom. I will always cherish the time our families spent together while growing up in New England. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Love, Mary Kay & Dale

February 20, 2013

Your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Sally Coviello
(Dr. Marino's)

Mary Zdinak

February 20, 2013

Mary Anne: So sorry to learn of your Mom's passing. I so enjoyed meeting Mary when she volunteered at the Greenwich Hospital - always in good spirits and fun to chat with. Know you'll miss her a lot. May God grant her eternal peace.
Gail Calder