Oro Valley is mourning the loss of a well-known resident.
Zev Cywan passed away on Monday, Jan. 17, after battling for several months with health problems, including pancreatitis. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and two stepdaughters.
Cywan, 71, was an active member of the community and a familiar face at most town council, boards and commissions meetings.
“He was a guy who loved this town,” said Mike Zinkin, a friend and fellow Oro Valley resident.
Many in Oro Valley remember Cywan through his regular attendance and comments at town council meetings. Few important issues were parsed in council chambers without the input of Cywan after he and wife, Marilyn, moved here in 2005.
Zinkin said Cywan always did his homework on local issues and took care to make sure he wasn’t just pointing out problems, but also identifying solutions.
“He never shot from the hip,” Zinkin said.
Zinkin added the two became fast friends during the 2010 council election, in which Zinkin was a candidate for mayor. Cywan also briefly contemplated a run for local office but decided against it ultimately.
Instead, he focused his efforts on helping the candidates he supported. Zinkin said Cywan aided him with writing and editing campaign materials and handing out fliers.
Cywan recently completed Oro Valley’s Citizen Planning Institute class, and in Jan. 2009, was appointed to the town’s Art Review Commission. Cywan also served on the commission seated to study the town’s sign code.
Zinkin said Cywan made a tremendous contribution to the town.
“He didn’t just sit on a commission,” Zinkin said. “It was quality time.”
Over the summer, however, Cywan fell ill and never fully recovered.
Oro Valley Town Councilman Joe Hornat said it was pancreatitis that originally struck Cywan.
The councilman visited Cywan many times during his months in the hospital. For a while, he saw signs of improvement.
“We thought he was getting better,” Hornat said. “We were there a week before he died and talked to him.”
He described Cywan as a principled political observer who could make his point known without resorting to personal attacks.
Hornat recalled an episode during the 2010 council campaign where he clashed with Cywan.
For a while, Cywan offered a show of support for Hornat by displaying one of his campaign signs at home. One day, however, the sign was gone.
“I asked him what’s going on,” Hornat said.
It turned out that Cywan had taken issue with Hornat over a position he took during the campaign. He took down the sign as a way to voice his concern.
After some conversation, the two found common ground.
“That’s just the kind of guy he was, he wanted to make his point,” Hornat said.
The next day, according to the councilman, his campaign sign was back at Cywan’s house.
The Town Council held a moment of silence before the Jan. 19 meeting to honor Cywan and the victims of the Jan. 8 shooting that took six lives and left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords injured.
Cywan was a San Francisco native and graduate of the university of California at Berkeley. A graveside service was held for Cywan in Petaluma, Calif., on Friday.