Following is a message to the campus community from President Rob Huntington about the passing of Frann Zverina, ’74:
Last Friday (Oct. 19) was a tremendously difficult and sad day as we learned of the passing of Frann Zverina, ’74, one of Heidelberg’s major benefactors, staunchest supporters and most dedicated alumni. Frann had been battling cancer for the past 16 months.
You may be aware that Frann was to have been inducted into our Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday (Oct. 26), an honor we will still bestow upon her, although now posthumously. She was as excited about her impending enshrinement into the Hall of Fame as she was whenever she was in the presence of our softball team, one of her many Heidelberg passions. They were her family. Frann was the lead donor for the creation of the softball field in Peaceful Valley, which enabled the team to move back on campus. It now bears her name and some believe there’s a bit of “Frann’s Magic” in that field as our team has claimed an OAC regular season championship, two tournament titles and numerous dramatic walk-off wins since Frann’s Field opened in 2015. She attended every game The Berg played near her home and those on campus when she was able. She cared to her core about every player on the roster, every year. The team’s affection was mutual for its most vocal and loyal fan.
While Frann’s impact on the softball program was immediate and immense, her many contributions to her alma mater have been transformational. As one of 15 members of a fourth-generation Heidelberg Legacy Family and a lifelong philanthropist, she willingly accepted a leadership role with the Alumni Council when it consolidated with the former Fellows Advisory Council. In June 2017, she assumed the presidency of the Alumni Council and joined the Board of Trustees. When that happened, Frann described it like a dream coming true. But just a month later, she received her cancer diagnosis. While it may have slowed her, it never stopped her from keeping her finger on the pulse of the progress on campus – a place she thought of as her second home.
As a student from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Frann was a member of Delta Sigma Chi and participated in volleyball, basketball, softball and tennis – although she didn’t excel at any of them (her words!). Nonetheless, her zeal for providing women students with the best facilities and opportunities was second to none. When the France Hall restoration/renovation project is complete, the women’s leadership space also will bear her name.
From a president’s standpoint, I marveled at Frann’s understanding of the importance and value of a strong operating budget and access to funding. As such, she consistently provided very generous annual gifts to The Heidelberg Fund, contributing every year since her graduation. I also appreciated Frann’s no-nonsense approach and her fiery personality. If I screwed up something, she told me. It was just how she operated and she expected the same in return.
Frann is survived by her mother, Anna Lois Shumaker, ’42; a brother, Robert Zverina; a sister, Nancy Zverina; and a niece and nephew, Annie and Jacob. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, in Wade Chapel of Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. Brown-Forward Inc. is assisting the family with arrangements.
Frann Zverina was truly one of a kind. More than anything else, I will personally miss Frann’s authentic character, courageous spirit, and passionate commitment to everyone she loved. And her super strong hugs too! She was one of our greatest champions and Heidelberg will miss her dearly. Please join me in expressing heartfelt sympathy to her family and loved ones.