behind the memorial scholarship. “He was a very inspiring guy that went through a massive life-altering illness and quality of life change. Yet he never complained. His passing got our group thinking that we’d like to do something lasting to pay tribute to him. Something that would be there forever. He was just a super guy and to do something in his memory that will mean so much to so many others moving forward.” Though his life ended prematurely, Kuszaj’s larger than life personality made an indelible impact on all those he knew – before and after his aneurysm. Kuszaj suffered an aneurysm Nov. 12, 2001, that was brought about by a condition he’d been born with, as his brain lacked some of the necessary smaller blood vessels that slow blood delivery to the brain. The abnormal connections caused blood to flow quickly and directly
from his arteries to his veins, bypassing the surrounding tissues, and leading to a brain bleed. Following a nearly five-month stay in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, Kuszaj returned home, where over time, he took on the role of Mr. Mom. As he slowly began to walk again – with the help of a brace – Kuszaj began doing chores around the house and became a father for the second time, while Janet returned to the workforce. “To see the hardship he went through over the last decade of his life; to see him rise up and not be bitter but become stronger, can’t help but provide motivation to others,” said fraternity brother Jay Allison, ’88. “He was a complete gentleman and hero and to see him persevere through what would have deterred most was inspiring. “All who came in contact appreciated his energy and drive. Establishing this memorial scholarship will not only preserve his memory, but hopefully provide students, who have the same character and values that he did, with an opportunity. The bottom line is that there are other Paul Kuszaj’s out there and this can have a hand in impacting their lives so they can do the same for others.” Following his graduation from SRU, Kuszaj taught in the Avonworth, Baldwin and West Mifflin school districts prior to settling into a 12-year run as the librarian at Barrett Elementary in Homestead. “When he proposed to me, he told me that we’d have a wonderful life and we did,” said Janet Kuszaj. “It was not nearly long enough … but we did … even through his illness. He was a real people person and took great pleasure in sharing in the joy of others. I can’t help but think he still will when he sees what this scholarship will be able to do for others.” To learn more about the Paul Kuszaj Memorial Scholarship, other scholarships, endowments and ways to give to SRU, visit: http://www.srufoundation.org.
Summer 2017 39