Christine A. Kaczmar-Russo, 52, administrator

C. Kaczmar-Russo
C. Kaczmar-Russo
Posted: January 04, 2014

Christine A. Kaczmar-Russo, 52, of Glen Mills, an administrator at St. Joseph's University, died Wednesday, Dec. 25, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from advanced angiosarcoma, a cancer of cells that line blood vessel walls.

She had been ill with the disease for the last two years, and went twice to Paris for treatments unavailable in the United States, said her sister-in-law Barbara Bravo.

The former Christine Kaczmar was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in 1996. Engaged to Albert Russo, the two moved up their wedding date so they could marry in Philadelphia before leaving for Seattle for her treatments.

Mrs. Kaczmar-Russo's brother, Peter, donated bone marrow for what became a successful transplant, her family said in a tribute.

"She lived life to its fullest, even after she was diagnosed with angiosarcoma," her husband said.

Mrs. Kaczmar-Russo was a native of Chester. She attended Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic School in Chester, and graduated from Padua Academy in Wilmington.

In 1983, she received a bachelor's degree in German from St. Joseph's University. Afterward, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study and teach in Germany. She returned to the United States in 1985, and was named a director in the University of Pennsylvania's Development Office. She later earned a master's degree in business administration from St. Joseph's University.

After leaving Penn, Mrs. Kaczmar-Russo was appointed director of foundation giving for St. Joseph's. From 1994 to 2004, she was special assistant to the Rev. Nicholas Rashford, then university president. She also was director of university relations, traveling extensively with Rashford to develop international programs.

Her fluency in German helped the two make connections abroad, her husband said.

Mrs. Kaczmar-Russo was involved in creating the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at St. Joseph's. From 2004 to just before she died, she was director of the master's degree program in international marketing within the business school.

"Christine's work at St. Joe's was more than just a job," her husband said. "She also taught several classes in marketing, and mentored a number of international students, developing lifelong relationships with them."

Though she never had children, she acted as godmother to children of former students as well as those of relatives and friends.

She and her husband were legendary hosts, serving German, Ukrainian, and Italian cuisine to their many foreign visitors.

A devout Catholic, Mrs. Kaczmar-Russo visited shrines all over the world and collected religious icons. She enjoyed listening to classical music and Catholic hymns, and attending opera and the ballet. She loved dogs, especially her pomeranian, Gracie.

Surviving, besides her husband and brother, are her father, Jaroslaw Kaczmar; another brother, Stephen; and nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held at the Chapel of St. Joseph's University, 5600 City Ave., starting at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 3. A Funeral Mass will follow at 1 p.m. Burial is in St. Thomas the Apostle Cemetery in Glen Mills.

The Christine Kaczmar-Russo Memorial Fund has been created to support students at St. Joseph's. Donations may be made payable to the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia, c/o Shannon Jordan, 100 N. 20th St., Suite 301, Philadelphia 19103.



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