Debbie Zielinski

Published March 13, 2019

Debbie Zielinski, a secretary in the School of Nursing, died of cancer Dec. 20. She was 63.

A native Western New Yorker and registered nurse, Zielinski worked in various units at UB, including the Graduate School of Education and the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She had worked at the School of Nursing since 1999.

Zielinski’s colleagues in the School of Nursing called her a loving person, with a big heart, a great sense of humor and an incredible work ethic.

“Debbie was truly one-of-kind. Not many have a dedication to their job and the School of Nursing stronger than she did,” said Andrea Proper, department manager in the School of Nursing and Zielinski’s supervisor, noting that Zielinski made sure that faculty, staff and students had all the assistance she could provide.

“She did not care what was popular; she cared what was right and fair, and would fight tooth and nail for what she believed,” Proper said.

“No one will ever welcome me to work like she did,” said Cheryl Spulecki, clinical assistant professor of biobehavioral health and clinical sciences. “She always made you feel you were a priority and your well-being was important to her.”

“Debbie was the warmest hug any time you needed it … and the most responsive support anyone could ever have as a faculty requiring support,” said Deborah Matteliano, clinical associate professor and graduate clinical coordinator. “I loved going to her office, as she always had that beautiful, warm smile ready to do anything — and then some.”

Added Clinical Instructor Lana Pasek: Debbie never hesitated to show me or explain to me what I was having trouble with and how to do it better. Even though I have not known her long, I could tell that she was so proud to be part of the School of Nursing.”

Zielinski was a frequent volunteer at many School of Nursing events, as well as at UB Police Department trainings and at the Day of Caring, her colleagues say.