Theresa F. Szemanczky
Theresa F. Szemanczky

October 4, 1930 - May 19, 2020
Born in New Haven
Resided in New Haven, Connecticut
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Theresa Szemanczky, 89, daughter of Walter and Zenobia Kuszynski, passed away peacefully at Yale New Haven Hospital on May 19, 2020 from complications of COVID-19. Theresa was born in New Haven on October 4, 1930, the youngest of 3 daughters and full of boyish spit and vinegar to Polish immigrants (poor as church mice) arrived at Ellis Island, NY, in 1912. Her pre-teen discovery of music spoke to her of a richer language beyond human estimation through classical piano lessons she began for the 'sweetest decade of her life' with Parisian-trained Fontainebleau Ecole instructor/director, Marie Brodeur. Her baker/landlord father echoed Teresa's forthcoming rise to become a classical pianist by funding her Larsen College courses, her work-study summers at the MacDowell (artists) Colony '47-'49, and her domestic performance concert tours, guided by conventional wisdom and elders' light-handed direction. But falling in love with young Julius Szemanczky, artist and teacher, when she was 19 was a most startling event and partial detour away from her music when it happened. Married in 1950, two children later in 1956, she became one of the first women insurance claims adjusters hired by Aetna Inc., becoming a visionary employee and department director by the mid-1970's. Throughout her later decades she taught music for classical students from the Audubon School in New Haven, led classes in senior aerobics and yoga, marketed and sold aerial kites, composed musical lessons and children singing missions of health and joy in various daycare centers in the city she loved and where she spent her whole life.
With her husband, friends, and her daughter Cathy especially, she toured Europe, Northern Africa, the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts, and Iron Curtain Poland (1968), and then read the great authors who profoundly influenced her traveling fever and historical contexts with the magic of their voices. She was a verbal connoisseur with a beautifully expansive cursive writing hand, and a 'treasury of vast knowledge and self-criticism', freely offering her advice and intuition to all friends and family by request. A great problem-solver, no matter the complexity of the other person's predicament: she knew how to shuffle-the-deck to find the hidden Aces. She lifted the burdensome paradoxes off their shoulders and opened ambient windows for an epiphany to 'countless daughters and sons and friends' needing her wisdom, or consolidation, or a polite kick-in-the can. "I wrote the book," she commanded when she detected cowardice or fear when someone stared abjectly looking down at the floor. A Light Brigade charge into the Valley of Death was much better than floundering as a victim on the sidelines. Get in the game totally! That was the integral clue she drew from life and shared with Julius, her classical romanticist for 58 years, until his death in 2008. The pair together paint-brushed with her music and his art intellectual, spiritual, and moral edification of chromatic growth and style in their home for half a century.
Theresa leaves behind her most loving daughter, Cathy, son Paul, daughter-in-law Marilyn, vestal daughters Carol, Susie, niece Sharon, Marlene, Carol Panza, Christine M., Irene, Helena, Joanna, Joan Z., Linda and Jill in Florida, and many others who called her 'Mom' by reason of harmonizing with her over finite concerns or occasions. Her palatine sons include foremost Raymond Zalenski, Tom, Rob, Stash, Walter Russell (4 nephews), John K., Rick K., Phil, Alex P., and other gladiators she faced in the ring of life challenging them to reach their fruition. A special love felt for Ann Petrowski of Branford, her 100 year-old sister, who remains a miracle tribute to Life. Another roll call goes out to those on-board the 'ships passing (her) in the night' or the hundred plus tenants who lived and studied at Yale mostly, and other institutions, achieving degrees or sabbatical credits, who enjoyed being in our parents' home for terms from 1962 - 2019. The levels of enrichment they brought to Teresa, their landlady, were beyond evaluation in never forgotten memories.
A special devotional love mom held for her furry dog babies: Koko-Chanel, Starr, and Thor who joyfully pranced in her backyard around beloved roses, basil, rosemary, and irises.
The family greatly appreciates the doctors and nurses of Yale New Haven Hospital who soothed her passage to Heaven, and the nurse staff, especially Maria at Elim Park Rehab in Cheshire who attended her needs after an accident to her pelvic bone during a lengthy convalescence before the virus. A private graveside service will be held in June at the family gravesite. A grand celebration of her life will occur by delay unfortunately in 2021. Theresa would welcome in lieu of flowers, if you wish, a contribution to the Audubon School of Music, New Haven, or a donation to MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH. The Lupinski Funeral Home, Inc. 821 State Street is in care of arrangements.