The Shipley Road “Sign Lady”
Heaven Called and She Answered (Current Sign)
Thousands knew her through handmade poster board signs that she hung at the entrance to her driveway for the past 40 years. The sayings were inspirational, uplifting, seasonal, personal, and comical. They will be missed.
Lorraine genuinely loved reading obituaries, not to see who had passed, but to meet those who had lived.Lorraine was always surrounded by friends and family, but for those who did not have the privilege of knowing her, this is Lorraine.She was a proud Delaware native, born in Wilmington on April 13, 1947.Raised on the city’s East side by her mother, Jean Pasternak, and Polish immigrant grandparents, Mary and Joseph Surowiec, she attended St. Mary’s grade school.She graduated from Wilmington High school in 1965 and maintained many close friendships through years of organizing class reunions.
Her initial employment was as a secretary for the DuPont company. She then joined Delaware Technical & Community College during its startup year where she had many roles from receptionist to secretary to the president, plus administrative work in the Planning Office.Her most enjoyable role was the Assistant Director and then Acting Director for the Delaware Service to the Foreign Born. She mostly enjoyed the diversity of her international clientele and guiding them through their legal red tape.Her favorite story involved helping Bob Marley’s mother with the immigration of the future mega star.
In 1972, Lorraine was nominated to the Outstanding Young Women of America and recognized as the top candidate from Delaware. In addition to her employment record it was noted that she was an outstanding member of Beta Sigma Phi.She was her chapter’s president and held many other major offices and was on the Beta Sigma Phi Wilmington City Council Executive Board.She found time to do volunteer work with S.O.S. Vietnam, with the aged and orphaned and for various charitable drives.Her offices held with the Delaware Federation of Business and Professional Women included state chairman for Young Career Women Program, Dover State Board and World Affairs Chairman.She was named Beta Sigma Phi Girl of the Year.The Delaware Federation of Business and Professional Women named her Wilmington Young Career Woman and Delaware Young Career Woman Runner-up in 1969-1970.Lorraine was one of five delegates to Secretarial/Clerical Office Personnel in Education.
During her time at DelTech she met her husband, Charlie, and they shared 47 loving years together. They honeymooned in Europe and were able to visit again several times after.During their early marriage they began restoring their historic home, Woodbound. The property provided unique homes for tenants, many who remain friends to this day. Preserving and maintaining the integrity of the beautiful estate fulfilled a life-long dream.
Lorraine left full-time employment for what became the most important role in her life. After years of fertility issues, she became one of the first women in the country to successfully deliver an IVF baby. This was the result of 12 years of tests, surgeries and rollercoaster highs and lows. In 1984 she gave birth to her miracle, Tamara Joy.She became an advocate for other couples with similar issues doing multiple TV and radio interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, and presentations at medical/nursing schools. She spent numerous hours in Legislative Hall working for support for bills to encourage insurance reform. A governor’s veto set the process back, but the following year over half of Delaware’s employers offered coverage.
Lorraine loved theater and arts. She shared this love with her nieces by treating them to monthly plays at the Delaware Children’s Theatre, a tradition she carried on for over a decade. Controlling 8+ young girls might seem like a challenge to most but was never a problem for “Aunt Lorraine” whom they adored. Maybe it was the candy goody bags she always gave each one? This past year she was blessed by attending plays once again with the next generation, her grandchildren and grandnieces/nephews.
Lorraine volunteered much of her time for children. She was a board member of the Delaware Committee for UNICEF for over 25 years.She was her daughter’s Girl Scout troop leader for 9 years and helped the girls raise funds for a Caribbean cruise as a last hurrah! She gave much of her time to both IHM and Padua libraries and cafeteria. In most recent years she truly enjoyed the Read Aloud Program, where she helped brighten children’s days reading books at Nemours Hospital for Children.
Lorraine loved watching her daughter play volleyball all over the country and formed many friendships with the parents of teammate’s. During this same time, Lorraine and her family also travelled to Poland where she met over 100 relatives. Her Polish heritage and traditions were always important to her, and her family will forever remember her Christmas Eve “Wigilia” dinners with its delicious perogies and kielbasa.She was a member of AMPOL for over 35 years, which eventually led to the hosting of Polish triplets through high school, college and grad school. The triplets complemented Tammy, becoming her new “sisters”.To this day they remain part of the family and have a very special bond.The triplets masterfully played their violins all over the world for many important events, including Joe Biden’s Christmas Party and appeared on America’s Got Talent.
In 2011, Lorraine gained a son when Tamara married Patrick Kane. They blessed her with 4 beautiful grandchildren in the past 6 years.She felt privileged to attend each of their births and they were her sunshine.Finnegan (6), Anika (4), Kieran (2) and most recently Tristan (4mos) will deeply miss their beloved Babci.
Lorraine’s hobbies included gardening, photography (especially her grandchildren), poetry/writing, dancing and yard sales.
God was a cornerstone in Lorraine’s life.She cherished the 40 years she spent with her Bible Study group and was a Eucharistic Minister at IHM.Her faith guided her through her 20 year battle with breast cancer, which she fought valiantly to the end. On Tuesday morning, God called her home, but her love lives on in those she leaves behind.Everyone is loved by someone, but Lorraine was loved by everyone.
A viewing will be held on Sunday, June 28 from 6-8 pm at the McCrery & Harra Funeral Home, 3924 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803 with overflow parking at the adjacent Brandywine YMCA. Due COVID restrictions, admittance into the building will be regulated. All attendees are asked to please wear a mask.
A Mass of Christian Burial at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and entombment in Cathedral Cemetery will take place privately.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made in Lorraine’s name to Read Aloud Delaware (www.readalouddelaware.org) or the Cancer Support Community (https://cancersupportdelaware.org/contribute/).