In Memoriam: Cindy Hughes Zerwas

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October 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 10
In Memoriam: Cindy Hughes Zerwas Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D.
ASA President-Elect

When Cindy Zerwas was diagnosed with brain cancer one and one-half years ago, her response was – for the many who knew and loved her – entirely true to character: she apologized to her husband and children for bringing such a burden upon them.


Surrounded by her loving family, Cindy passed away on August 20, 2013, after a valiant fight against glioblastoma.


The memorial that took place for Cindy on August 24, 2013, was emblematic of the way she lived her life. The service drew approximately 2,000 people, a testament to the number of lives she touched both within and far outside her community.


Cindy’s brother and sister gave moving tributes, and her niece performed an inspirational song she had written for Cindy during her battle with cancer. The couple’s four children each gave moving, personal recollections of the mother who devoted her life to them.


President Zerwas echoed the sentiment of their children as he described the inestimably important role Cindy played in his life, within their family and in the community. They celebrated 35 years of marriage this year.


Cindy’s life revolved around her family, and she was elated when her daughter Sherry and her husband Matthew gave her two grandchildren: Isabella in 2009 and Matthew in 2011.


Her passion for her family was matched by her devotion to God. Cindy grew up attending Wayside and Sherman and Southeast Churches of Christ, and later was a fixture at First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, Texas.


Cindy’s memorial program included the inspirational poem “Footprints,” which addresses issues of faith, loss and perseverance through the eyes of someone who momentarily questions God’s support in times of need:


I have noticed that during the most

troublesome times in my life,

there is only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why in times when

I needed you the most, you should leave me.


The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child.

I love you, and I would never, never leave

you during your times of trial and suffering.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you.”


As they came to say goodbye, the depth of emotion and reverence displayed by those attending her memorial were a clear indicator that, although her mortal life has ended, Cindy’s legacy of love and passion will burn forever. A beloved individual who spent her entire life giving has now been received in the arms of her Lord, whom she revered with all her heart during her remarkable time on earth.


The family welcomes donations celebrating Cindy’s life to the Marnie Rose Foundation at or via 5090 Richmond Avenue in Houston, Texas 77056. A full obituary can be viewed at the Houston Chronicle  by searching for “Cindy Zerwas” in the obituary section.



Remembrances for Cindy Zerwas

There is no doubt that Cindy Zerwas was the family matriarch. Children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws … regardless of how busy she and John were, there was ALWAYS time for love, encouragement, direction and guidance. Cindy was much, much more than the glue that held the family together. She created and nurtured the bonds that will hold the entire family together for generations to come. “Texascindy” had a unique ability to bring people from all walks of life together: friends, neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, needlepointers, physicians, politicians, lobbyists, old, young, white, black, brown. Within ASA, she was always encouraging to anesthesiologists who were new to the political process and especially to upcoming officers. She was especially welcoming to their spouses and families and extraordinarily inclusive. Cindy could capture a room with her presence. She exuded hope, positivity, confidence and genuine friendliness. Around 1,500-2,000 people attended the memorial reception and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. She will surely be missed, but has left us all with everlasting memories.

– Jeffrey L. Apfelbaum, M.D., 2008 ASA President, and Carol Apfelbaum


Cindy lives on in the lives of John, her children and grandchildren. Cindy, thank you for sharing John with ASA over the years. Thank you and John both for allowing ASA to be part of this last journey with you. The twinkle in your eyes, your beautiful smile and your contagious laugh will long be remembered by all those whose lives you touched. Peace to you, John and your family.

– Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D., ASA President-Elect, and John Fitch


Cindy Zerwas was about as close to perfection that you could get. She was the perfect mother, the perfect wife, a perfect grandmother, a perfect sister, a perfect friend and, yes, the perfect Texan. She was there for everyone, always putting others before herself. Cindy liked everyone and never had a negative thing to say about anyone. Cindy loved Facebook, almost becoming a total Facebook junkie, but one posting on Cindy’s “wall” wrapped it up so perfectly. Someone wrote...”I wanted to go to the Celebration Service for Cindy and there were absolutely no parking spots left at that huge church and I had to leave. If I knew it was going to be so packed, I would have camped out the night before.” Cindy ... you sold the place out! Cindy and John Zerwas ... the perfect couple ... the perfect “ASA First Lady.” We all feel so cheated that she was taken from us way too young. Cindy’s legacy lives on through all of those who she touched. Cindy ... we love you ... we miss you ... but we know you are looking down on all of us and yelling down your classic: “woo hoo!”

– James D. Grant, M.D., ASA Treasurer, and Lisa Grant, M.D.


The recent “Celebration of Life” service for Cindy Zerwas was the most heart-warming and inspirational memorial service I have ever attended. In thinking of the service, I believe it was simply a true reflection of her life and spirit. Her infectious positive approach to life never failed her, even as her illness progressed. It is no wonder that John Zerwas and the children are such remarkable people; I am certain that they have been and will be guided by memories of Cindy’s incandescent smile and unconquerable spirit throughout their lives.

– John B. Neeld, Jr., M.D., 1999 ASA President


What I remember most about Cindy is her smile and cheerfulness. She was always encouraging and generous with compliments. She was a model as a mom and a wife… I really enjoyed hearing all the remarks from her four children, who pointed out the challenges of dealing with children in a humorous way.

– Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., ASA Assistant Treasurer



I first met Cindy at the PGA meeting in December 2012. She was warm, outgoing, graceful and courageous. My respect for Cindy as a person and for Cindy and John as a couple only grew. It was a privilege to attend the celebration of her life. To hear the reflections from her siblings, children and husband was profoundly inspiring.

– Paul Pomerantz, ASA Chief Executive Officer


I recall a quote from Marcel Marceau: “Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words?”

I cannot adequately express my sadness over the passing of Cindy Zerwas. Despite knowing for weeks that at any moment Cindy could return to her maker, receiving a call the morning of August 20, 2013, that she had passed away produced a sense of a colossal emptiness.

It was an honor to attend her funeral services and the extraordinarily uplifting memorial organized by John and the family to celebrate the incredible life of this wonderful person, wife, mother and friend.

– Eugene P. Sinclair, M.D., 2005 ASA President


All of our hearts ache for the loss of Cindy Zerwas. We stand with John and their family, ready to do anything we can to help, and only attempt to understand, to explain the premature departure of this extraordinary and faithful person. Cindy’s smile, her charm, her beauty and warmth, her sense of humor, her love and compassion and her untiring devotion to her family is her legacy. Her passing represents a huge loss not only to her family, but to her entire community – our community. We admired her in life, and we will always cherish our relationship, and the beautiful thoughts and memories that she leaves with us.

– Steven L. Sween, M.D., ASA Speaker of the House of Delegates, and Barbara Sween

Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D. is John L. Plewes Professor and Chair with Tenure, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City.