We celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Donna Grozuczak, who died on October 18, 2019 at the age of 64 in Millburn, New Jersey. Donna lived for her family and friends, but devoted the same passion and energy to the children of New Jersey she represented as a law guardian attorney, and the homeless in her community she supported as a long-time volunteer, fundraiser and board member for the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.
Donna was a coalminer's granddaughter born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on March 20, 1955 to Michael Grozuczak, founder of Migro Mold, a tool and die company located in Linden, New Jersey, and Stella Grozuczak, founder of People for Animals, an animal protection agency located in Hillside, New Jersey. Although Mike and Stella did not attend college, they impressed the importance of higher education on Donna from an early age. She attended Battin High School in Elizabeth with many of her life-long friends and followed her big sister JoAnn Goedert to Mount Holyoke College, where she graduated in 1977.
Donna graduated Rutgers Law School - Newark in 1983, and after a judicial clerkship for the Middlesex County Superior Court she worked at the NJ Office of the Public Advocate and the Community Health Law Project, where she represented people with mental health challenges in a wide variety of civil matters. While at the CHLP in the 1980's she was successful in overturning a denial of benefits by Medicaid for a transgender client's gender reassignment surgery - a first in New Jersey.
Thereafter, Donna joined the Office of the Public Defender as a law guardian attorney and served in that position in a variety of locations for over thirty-one years before she retired due to illness in May of 2019. As law guardian attorney, Donna represented children of all ages in both abuse and neglect cases as well as termination of parental rights cases filed by the State. Donna's dedication to her clients was tireless, and her combination of compassion, humor and tenacity enabled her to be incredibly effective in navigating the complex competing interests inherent in children welfare litigation. She represented thousands of children over the years, and devoted herself to each child with a generosity of spirit that was inspiring. Donna was an equally generous and inspiring mentor to so many colleagues, and the heart and soul of the Union County Office of the Law Guardian, where she worked for most of her career.
Incredibly, Donna made time outside her personal and family life for many charitable pursuits. Most notably, she was actively involved with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless for decades and served as a member of its Board from 1986 to 2019. The Coalition, located at 118 Division Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07201, provides invaluable housing and employment services to the neediest among us, and we ask that you make a donation in lieu of flowers to this worthy organization.
Donna was beautiful, brilliant, grounded, funny, open and caring, and she put these qualities to good use as a determined advocate for the people and causes to whom she was devoted. Gifted with infectious positivity, an astronomically high EQ, and incredibly subtle powers of persuasion, Donna usually got her way, but rarely at anyone else's expense.
Fortunately, Donna also passed these qualities on to her beloved children Alexandra Tunis and Rebecca Tunis, her greatest gifts to her loving husband Eric Tunis, sister JoAnn, brother-in-law James Goedert, nephew Nicholas Goedert and wife Sumin, nephew Andrew Goedert, uncle Anthony Bestreski, foster nephews Worku and Tensae, cherished dog Daisy, and many other family members and friends. We know that Allie and Becky will generously share their good fortune of having Donna as a mother with others much as Donna carried on the legacy of Mike and Stella.
We are heartbroken that we cannot make new memories with Donna, but we will be forever fortified by the ones that we have. We will celebrate Donna and her extraordinary life on Sunday, November 17 at the First Congregational Church of Westfield NJ, with a Memorial Service at 2:30pm and a gathering in church Fellowship Hall that afternoon. All who knew Donna are welcome to join us to honor her, share their memories, and enjoy refreshments and music. Our family will post details about the memorial service in the coming weeks. Arrangements by Gray Funeral Directors, Westfield. Please go to: www.grayfuneralhomes.com to offer condolences.