Mary Ellen Sielicki, whose empathy suffused her leadership — running an assisted living facility and a nonprofit agency and directing activities at nursing homes — died Dec. 27 in University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Toledo Hospital. She was 65.
She developed pneumonia after having knee surgery, her husband, Jim Sielicki, said.
Mrs. Sielicki operated Victorian Manor on Parkwood Avenue in the Old West End from 1994 until 2008. The facility housed 16 people, most of them elderly.
“She was in control,” said her husband, a retired Blade copy editor and reporter. “She knew how to hire people and get residents. She knew how the process worked.
“Her heart went out to people who didn’t have anybody else to look out for them,” said her husband, who helped with maintenance and cooked meals. “She kept the books, and she was the one who steered the ship.”
Mrs. Sielicki decorated the facility in part with personal items to add a homey touch, said Bill Coder, who rehabilitated the former nursing home and leased it to the Sielickis for several years before they bought the building.
“The patients really cared about her,” Mr. Coder said.
For several years, starting in the early 1990s, Mrs. Sielicki was executive director of Housing Directions of Greater Toledo and aimed to resolve landlord-tenant disputes — and ultimately prevent homelessness, she told The Blade in 1993.
“By this program and by teaching the landlords how to do things, we’re going to allow people to stay in the neighborhoods they grew up in or moved to,” Mrs. Sielicki said then.
Mr. Coder, Housing Directions board president when she was hired, said: “She was very smooth at trying to make everyone feel OK. She could resolve problems.”
She was a 1974 graduate of Ohio Northern University. She was a former office and fiscal manager of the Hardin County Council on Aging. She learned the particulars of billing and Medicare procedures while assistant manager for home health-care products at a Tiffin pharmacy.
She and her husband moved to Toledo in 1985, after which she was a director of activities, marketing, and admissions for area nursing homes.
“She loved to be with people, and talking, and making people feel wanted and needed and loved,” her husband said.
She was a former worthy matron and deputy grand matron of Tiffin Chapter, Eastern Star. She served as board president and interim executive director of the Seneca County Chapter of the American Red Cross. She also was a former president of the West Toledo Exchange Club.
“She put her teeth into whatever had to be done and did it well,” her husband said.
She was born Jan. 8, 1952, in Lafayette, Ohio, to Mildred and Bill Martin and was a 1970 graduate of Ada High School.
Her marriage to Bruce Williams ended in divorce. Her son, Matthew Alan Williams, died March 28, 2013.
Surviving are her husband, Jim, whom she married Oct. 2, 1982; sister, Beverly Irwin, and two granddaughters.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Most Blessed Sacrament Church.
The family suggests tributes to Ohio Eastern Star Home, Mount Vernon, Ohio; National Multiple Sclerosis Society, or 4 PawsSake canine rescue group in Whitehouse.
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