– Neil Zurowski’s gifts honor the memory of his wife, Donna, adding flair to TU’s Marching Band and Theatre Department –

Nick Zurowski ’11 and Neil Zurowski

When Neil Zurowski’s wife, Donna Zurowski, died from cancer last year, he and his family chose to honor her memory with a gift of style.

From decorating the plain trucks of TU’s Marching Band to contributing to the Department of Theatre Arts, the gifts are a fitting tribute to a woman who was a talented designer and seamstress.

Donna made her own dresses, including her wedding gown and evening gowns. “She was always stylish and beautiful, and she had a special connection with designs and fabrics,” Neil recalls. (He wrote of his wife’s passion in his poem, “Rummaging,” below.) Donna took costume classes at TU, which strengthened her love for design.

Now her husband has donated her sewing machine, equipment and supplies to TU’s Costume Shop, enabling students to learn about the craft she adored. He has also supported experiential learning in the theatre department. “These gifts create a legacy of learning about design and being a seamstress by allowing students to attend workshops, hold workshops and learn more about design and theatre,” says Neil, who has plans for future gifts.

Perhaps the most visible and stylish impact is the transformation of the TU Marching Band’s white trailers and box truck.

The Zurowski family enjoyed attending the band’s events and performances, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2009, when Nick Zurowski ’11, their son, was a member of the band. When Nick recalled that Band Director John Miliauskas wanted to dress up the band’s plain white trailers and box truck, the family inquired about wrapping them.

The vehicles are now adorned with massive photos of the band and the TU logo, along with Donna’s initials, DMZ, and “In Memory of Donna Zurowski.” Neil sees the direct, tangible benefits of his gifts and fondly remembers working with Miliauskas and TU designers on the wrapping design. 

Miliauskas is thrilled with the results, “Our vehicles look so classy and impressively represent TU. I am very grateful and humbled by the Zurowskis’ gesture,” he says.

A Poem by Neil Zurowski

Remnants of designer dreams
Each pinked square and fraying scrap
a chapter in our Love Story.
That a chair cushion pulled and stapled
rose and gold as George and Mary
have a wonderful life. (I’d have given her the moon too.)
Those Quimper French blue and sunflower tassels
hot glued, removed, corrected, glued again to eyebrow a valence.
This the aubergine brocade and shimmering heliotrope shantung
a dress to bathe the goddess darkly.
Baby blue rabbits and grey bushy squirrels,
camouflage and shiny helmet for a patton, jr
rampant lions for sir cedric.
And a 64 count box of Crayola yarn
To cross stitch our life
An amazing Technicolor dreamcoat.