In Memory of Rose Zukiewicz

Rose Zukiewicz (July 10, 1949 – May 20, 2024) was a fun-loving librarian who was adored by many people and who adored many in return. Born to parents Theodore and Mary in rural Pleasant Unity, PA, she was a small-town girl, but did not live in a lonely world; she was one of nine children in a large Slovak family full of jokesters, smart-mouths and all-around kind and loving people. Always a woman of sparkling intelligence and charm, she attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she met her husband, Paul, after swindling him out of a beer during a game of skeet. Rose and Paul had two children, Lucas and Marykate, and would eventually move to Huntersville, North Carolina, where they would live for the next 35 years.

Rose had four passions in life: books, family, friends, and fun. She worked as a teacher for over two decades before finding her true calling as a librarian, receiving a master’s degree in library science from Winthrop University. She founded the school library at Harris Road Middle School, carefully curating a selection of books that represented many perspectives. She believed in creating an inclusive library, regardless of whether some books might ruffle a few feathers. Her library featured some titles that are now under review by many school boards across the country.

As both an educator and friend, Rose touched the lives of many people through her generous spirit. She was well known for sending birthday money to an extended list of relatives well after they had all hit middle age, and her holiday care packages were a thing of lore. She also leaves a slew of unofficially adopted children and grandchildren, scattered around the Charlotte metro area.

Most importantly, Rose will be remembered for being the life of the party. She was a devoted fan of party hats, big fireworks displays and loud party favors. Her family will long remember her spirited participation in games of Marco Polo on family beach trips and her enthusiastic dancing anytime a live band was involved. Her friends will remember someone who always showed up for them on special occasions and who made them feel loved.

Beyond the many people who knew her and loved her, Rose leaves a legacy of impact on the larger Charlotte community. Whether working with the unhoused at Urban Ministries, volunteering for local libraries, canvassing for the North Mecklenburg Democrats or peddling licensed hot dogs to football game-goers through St. Peters Church, she tried to make the world a better place and encouraged others to do the same.

Rose died after a year-long battle with Glioblastoma, which she fought with humor and indefatigable optimism. In perhaps the greatest expression of her “you only live once” attitude, Rose opted for a near-exclusive diet of French chocolates, ice cream and sprinkle donuts in her final months. She even had a mint julep in hospice.

Desperately missing her are too many people to name here, but they include her husband, Paul; her daughter, Marykate, and her son, Lucas; her granddaughter, Josie; her in-law children, Melissa and Pawan; and her countless family and friends (her family is still working its way through assembling the bewilderingly long contact list of people that loved her).

Donations in Rose’s memory can be made to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation.