Harriet Zelencik

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Photo Harriet Zelencik A 35-year Woodside resident and an ardent advocate for and patron of the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, died in her home on Feb. 14 with her husband of 53 years holding her hand. She was 75. The cause of death was a rare and aggressive cancer, according to doctors at the Stanford Cancer Center. Mrs. Zelencik was the wife of Stephen Zelencik, a longtime executive in the semiconductor industry. W.J. Sanders III, founding chief executive officer of AMD and a friend of the Zelenciks for more than 40 years, said "People like Harriet allow people like Steve to go out into the world and do great things. She provided the rock-solid base camp so Steve could go out and climb mountains. She was a great lady." Aunt Harriet "was gracious, generous, unassuming and selfless," noted Ms. Pam Giannotti. "I don't want to die, but more than anything I don't want to leave Stephen," Mrs. Zelencik told her niece shortly before her death. "Harriet's love, devotion to and support of the children and families we care for at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital," said Dr. Harvey Cohen, the hospital's former chief of staff, "has been critical for our being able to offer the best care today, and to ensure even better children's health in the future." "She never smoked, and always drank the best wine we could afford," remembered her husband. She loved dogs, especially big ones like the Pyrenees mountain dogs, Spook and Sparky, who graced their yard over the years. "She always wanted dogs bigger than she was." Mrs. Zelencik was born in October 1935 in East Chicago, Ind., the youngest of the 11 children of Jacob and Mary Sarnecki. Harriet met Steve while they both were working at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. They were married in 1958 while Steve was still at Purdue University. In 1964 they moved to Granada Hills, Calif., where Harriet and their daughter, Mary, who was born while they were at Purdue, developed a love of horses and riding. When they moved to Woodside easy access to horses was essential, Steve Zelencik said, although Harriet refused to house horses at her home. "I don't mind going to the barn," she once told her husband, "but we're not going to have the barn on our property." Their daughter, a real estate agent, died unexpectedly in 1994. In Woodside, Harriet joined the Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary as well as the Woodside Hills Garden Club. The guild provides support for the children's hospital through the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. Harriet several times, with great success, chaired the guild's principal fundraising event, Tally Ho. "She was perpetually, in her gentle and selfless way, a wonderful support to all of the auxiliary's activities," noted Ms. Barbra Wood, a former president of the organization. In 1993 the Zelenciks developed a special project fundraising initiative designed to increase support of the hospital from local companies. Ms. Victoria Applegate, of the foundation, said the fund to finance specific items of need at the hospital introduced by the Zelenciks "has been exquisitely successful over the years." In addition to Stephen, Harriet is survived by her brothers, Walter and Louis Sarnecki of northern Indiana; her mother-in-law, Catherine Zelencik, who is 102, and sister-in-law, Mary Schmidt, both of Santa Barbara, and multiple nieces and nephews and other relatives. Gifts in Harriet's memory can be made to the Harriet and Mary Zelencik Fund at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and sent to Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, 400 Hamilton Ave, Ste 340, Palo Alto, CA 94301. Services will be private.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 18, 2011
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