By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Crestwood School Board of Education President Donna Ancinec died Oct. 25 at the age of 66 after a battle with a chronic liver condition.
For over 20 years, Ancinec served on the board where she was president for the last 15 years, serving up until recently when she was evaluated for recommended treatments in early October.
She had been transferred to a rehab facility for physical therapy for the condition she has been battling the last few years. Trustee Sue Kaminsky had started a GoFundMe page for Ancinec’s medical expenses including transportation and associated costs.
An Oct. 22 update said Ancinec was unable to go home because she was not medically stable followed by an Oct. 25 update that said she couldn’t get surgery as previously planned and that Ancinec was in hospice care.
Crestwood Supt. Youssef Mosallam, in an Oct. 26 letter to the district’s community, called Ancinec a friend and someone who became family to him and his wife.
“Beyond the strong leadership she possessed and illustrated; she was kind, caring, empathetic, and understood that our children of the Crestwood community are our future,” he said. “Even during her struggle in the hospital, we would speak almost everyday because she would always say, ‘No time to rest. We have so much more to do.’
“As a superintendent, people tend to think that we have ‘all the answers’ but Donna was the type of person and leader that allowed me and my team to be comfortable to say, ‘I do not know, can you help me?’ and she did so without hesitation or judgment.”
During the board’s special meeting Oct. 28, a moment of silence was held just after Trustee Ed Garcia made the announcement about Ancinec’s death.
Trustee Colleen Krizanic has been friends with Ancinec since they met in 1993 at an open house at Riverside Middle School.
“We talked every single day,” she said. “It’s going to hard not to hear from her, all her messages are saved so I can hear her voice, and I met her right here at Riverside on a parent night when our kids were going into Riverside.”
Garcia said he met Krizanic and Ancinec at the same open house. He described Ancinec as a concerned, caring and compassionate person.
“Donna was a friend,” he said. “She was there for me as I dealt with a lot of different things over the course of the last five years. She had opened up her door, opened up her heart and I know that she was a colleague but she was like a big sister — that person you could go to and tell what was going on in your life.”
Trustee Nadia Berry said that losing Ancinec has been very hard on the entire board.
“This was not excepted,” she said. “She was a great mentor, we grew to become really good friends. She was articulate in everything she did. She did it with integrity. She admitted her faults — no one is perfect.”
Ancinec leaves her husband, Bradley; son Joseph; and daughter Emily.
“Through sickness, she remained dedicated to her family and the children of the district,” her obituary read. “She was a true legend and will be forever missed.”
Memorial visitation took place Oct. 30 at the John N. Santeiu & Son Funeral Home in Garden City and a funeral service at the St. Sabina Catholic Church, 25605 Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn Heights on Oct. 31.