Rochester NY: Zena died peacefully at Highland Hospital on October 5, 2016. She was a beloved friend to many, who were attracted to her spirit, energy, intellect, wit, and a good portion of English charm.
She was born in London in 1926. She had a difficult childhood marked by the German blitz of London during World War II. Lack of income and family turmoil also made things difficult. Although her family could not afford it, a leading girl’s school in London recognized her talents and potential and admitted her on a scholarship. That part of her education was first rate. However, when her father left the family, Zena had to quit school to help support the family. She first worked in a London law office as a secretary. Her superiors in the firm thought so highly of her potential that they offered to pay her way through law school if she would return to the firm and work for them. Zena was pleased but told them she was trying to be a writer and did not accept. Thereafter she went to work for The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). There she was pleased to be associated with the war effort and with her co-workers, the feeling of doing something important.
When the war ended, she married Louis Shumsky, an American Army war photographer, and they moved to America near his home in Atlantic City, NJ. Their life there proved not very satisfactory, and they moved to Rochester, NY, where Louis opened a photography studio. They had two sons, Jeffrey and Paul. Through her independent studies, she acquired a liberal education which was the equivalent of a liberal arts degree except for science, in which she had little interest and less ability. Tensions in her marriage resulted in divorce in 1968. Thereafter, she continued writing and became active in library and other civic affairs where she met Thomas Hampson, a Rochester lawyer. They were married in 1970. That marriage proved to be a happy relationship and lasted for 46 years.
She continued writing and eventually wrote two novels: “A Cooler Climate” and “Ghost Note”, which were met with critical acclaim. “A Cooler Climate” was made into a Showtime “movie of the week” starring Judy Davis and Sally Field. As a result of her growing reputation she was a welcome visitor to many of the important writers’ colonies including Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
Zena was predeceased by her first husband, Louis Shumsky, and by their son Jeffrey. She is survived by husband of 46 years Thomas M. Hampson of Rochester, NY, brother Laurence Feldman of Chicago, IL, half-brother Michael Fieldman of Jerusalem, Israel, son Paul Shumsky (wife Penny Field) of E. Hartford, CT, step-daughter Melissa H. (husband Eric) Christianson of Rochester, NY, step-son Douglas M. Hampson (wife Mary Lee) of Bass Harbor, ME, step-granddaughter Leah Field of Boston, MA, step-granddaughter Aaren Field of Tampa, FL, step-grandson Alexander H. (wife Erin) Efron of Brooklin, ME, step-grandson Nathaniel S. Efron of Boston, MA, and devoted friend and aide Maria Babiy.
Friends wanting to contribute in her memory may do so to the Zena Collier Memorial Fund for the Assistance of Aspiring Writers at Writers & Books, 740 University Ave., Rochester, NY 14607, (585) 473-2590.
A memorial gathering will be held at a later date.