Sue W. Cywinski, nee Woodward, age 81, passed away peacefully on December 6, following her battle with lymphoma. She joins her beloved late husband, John S. Cywinski, MD, after 23 years apart. She leaves behind her and John’s five adoring children, their 15 grandchildren, and her three surviving siblings, all of whom will remember Sue for her sense of humor, caring spirit, and years of devotion to her family.
Sue was born to Edna and Clarence Woodward in the Mississippi River town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on the lucky date of 11/11 in 1938. Raised in the small town of Sikeston, Missouri, Sue attended Sikeston High School, where she was a cheerleader for the Sikeston Bulldogs (“Bulldogs, Bulldogs, fight, fight, fight!”).
After high school, Sue attended St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing. It was there that she met John, a medical student at St. Louis University. Coming from small-town Missouri, Sue thought John must have been foreign: He had dark hair and a weird last name — but she also thought he was handsome and charming. John asked her if she was going to the next mixer for nursing and medical students. Sue hated the mixers and never went. However, she decided to go to this one. She wanted to see John again. But when she arrived, John wasn’t there. Disappointed, she went home early. What she didn’t know was that John was also excited to see her again, but he was stuck in a procedure and running late. When he finally arrived later that evening, Sue’s friends rushed to bring her back. They shortly thereafter got engaged (on her birthday) and Sue Woodward became Sue Cywinski on Saturday, July 23, 1960.
After moving to Chicago with John for his residency, they started having kids and soon settled down in Arlington Heights, Illinois to raise a family. It was in motherhood that Sue found her true calling. She loved being a mom and was intimately involved in her children’s lives; she never missed her kids’ practices or games. It was the small, daily acts of devotion to them that is among her most enduring legacies: The visits to Santa’s Village every summer; the lunches at home during elementary school, often with many friends invited; the trips with her girls to window shop at the mall after church on Sundays; the breakfasts for dinner during “austerity weeks” while they were pinching pennies to launch Dr. Cy’s pediatric practice; and how she would hitch and drive a UHaul all by herself to take the kids to college year-after-year. Sue loved every minute of motherhood. She thought it was the most important job in the world. All the kids’ friends loved Mrs. Cy and visiting her house, where she always had a fully-stocked jar of full-sized candy bars for everyone to enjoy.
In 1990, Mrs. Cy became “Nonnie Sue” with the birth of her first of many grandchildren. To them, Nonnie Sue’s love was clear and could be found in her “special days,” and the beautifully wrapped gifts — immaculately presented with perfectly curled bows — that she would find any occasion to deliver. Nonnie Sue never missed a birthday or graduation. Like motherhood, she loved every minute of being a grandma.
A devout Catholic, for Sue, service to the community and volunteering were important. She served as a Eucharistic Minister for many years. When the kids were in school, she was a member (and sometimes president) of the Parent Teacher Association and when they were no longer in school, she volunteered at Good Shepherd Hospital.
Tragically, Sue lost the love of her life at Notre Dame Stadium in 1996. She and Dr. Cy were there with family and friends to watch their cherished Fighting Irish play Ohio State. She was only 57 years old when he suddenly died. John was her best friend. But John’s memory lived on through her and with her for years to come, and, at random and pivotal moments, he would come back to her, often at 11:11. For example, when his “memorial rock” was found against all odds in the walls of a chapel at Notre Dame and when one of their grandchildren was choking and Sue needed his help to save his life. Theirs was a love story that never ended. And while their separation may have seemed long for those of us still here, in Heaven, John is just arriving to the mixer — and Sue is rushing back to see him.
Sue was the loving mother of Kathleen (Greg) Whitacre, John (Laura) Cywinski, Cindy (Mike) Perrino, Julie (Scott) Dougherty, and Susan Cywinski-Zebell; proud grandmother of Nico, John, Dan, Kristin, Connor, Christina, Brennan, Ryan, Alyssa, Ryan, Colin, Arianna, Michael, McKenna, and Danny; dear sister of Joan (the late Allan) Walton, Kenneth (Linda), and Jim (Pam) Woodward, and the late Ann (the late Ron) Sushinski and the late Dave (Marybeth) Woodward; and fond aunt and cousin of many.
Visitation: Saturday, December 14, 2019 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. at Gibbons Funeral Home,
134 South York Road, Elmhurst.
Mass of Christian Burial: Saturday, December 14, 2019 9:15 a.m. – Visitation Catholic Church. 779 S York St, Elmhurst. (~1 mile south from funeral home)
Interment: All Saints Catholic Cemetery, Des Plaines
While Sue battled lymphoma, her brother’s 5-year-old grandson currently battles a recurrence of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the “Fight for Miles” GoFundMe account by visiting and noting “in memory of Sue Cy.” gofundme.com/f/37z4c-fight-for-miles.
For funeral information, please call 630-832-0018 or visit www.gibbonsfuneralhome.com.