March 1, 1963 – June 4, 2014
After having spent a peaceful afternoon and evening with the family she loved so much, Cindy drew a last, gentle breath on June 4, 2014, at the age of 51. Her passing concluded a six-month battle with hepatosplenic gamma-delta Tcell lymphoma, an extremely rare and aggressive type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
She is survived by her adoring husband of nearly 29 years, Michael Ostermeyer; by the children she cherished, Billy, John, and Liz; by her devoted sister Katy (John) Thomas; by her proud mama Ranae Zautcke Stavish; by dear step-brothers Andy, John, and Tony Stavish; by her loving nieces (Eleonor, Haley, and Rachelle) and nephews (Matthew, Paul, and Andrew); and by cousins, colleagues and countless friends.
She joins her father (Dr. Alvin B. Zautcke), stepfather (Anthony W. Stavish), Aunt Jean (Hon. William) Shaughnessy, and Uncle Bill (Lois Schroeder) Zautcke at rest.
Born March 1, 1963, in Milwaukee, Cindy grew up on Pewaukee Lake and graduated from Pewaukee High School in 1981. (She surprised colleagues of later years with stories of summers sailing on the lake and the admission that, yes, she was indeed both a cheerleader and homecoming queen.) A talented pianist with a fluid mezzo-soprano voice, she matriculated at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as a music performance major. Soon, however, she turned to the studies of language and literature that she pursued throughout her life, and graduated in 1985 with majors in German and English. On a memorably scorching Saturday afternoon later that year, she and her fellow Luther graduate Mike were wed. Together, they moved to Nashville, where Cindy earned her M.Ed. at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and where – given a class of 16 East Nashville Junior High students who had all failed eighth grade at least twice – she came to understand her calling as a teacher. Cindy and Mike returned to Milwaukee in 1990, where Cindy continued to teach at risk students at Grand Alternative High School and helped found El Puente High School. Within months after having resolved to leave the classroom to spend more time with her growing family, Cindy signed on to lobby for the state’s first charter school law. For nearly two decades after the law’s passage, she served as policy expert, substantive resource, advocate and leader for charter schools in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin and nationwide, spending much of that time as colleague to Dr. Howard Fuller at Marquette University’s Institute for the Transformation of Learning. In the past 10 years, Cindy became a parent, committed volunteer and leader at University School of Milwaukee, where she recognized and helped support a community of gifted and passionate teachers who shaped the lives of her children. She combined grace, calm and genuine warmth with a relentless commitment to make things right.
Those desiring to honor Cindy should kindly make a gift in her memory to the Cindy Zautcke Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University School of Milwaukee, 2100 W. Fairy Chasm Road., Milwaukee, WI 53217, which has been established to support city of Milwaukee students wishing to attend USM.
A public memorial service in Cindy’s honor will be held on Sunday, July 13 at 3:00 p.m. at University School of Milwaukee, 2100 W. Fairy Chasm Road. All are welcome to attend and celebrate her life.