‘She touched so many lives’: Carmel psychologist Lazarick dies at 64


I used to tease that my wife made the smartest decision of her life when she said “I do” Sept. 1, 1984, when, of course, the reverse was true.

Wracked by endometrial cancer, Donna Lazarick’s big heart gave way Feb. 26, 2024, at 64. Donna cherished her family and friends, and she devoted her life to helping others.

Daughter Nicole might look more like an Ambrogi, but she inherited her mother’s giving nature and kind soul. Son Dan has my sense of humor but his mother’s tender heart.

When cancer started to get the best of her, she hesitated to retire as a psychologist despite me telling her for weeks it was time. Her oncologist finally convinced her it was time. She worried about clients and still tried to answer them and hold a few sessions even after mid-December surgery to remove a brain tumor. Through her four-decade career, Donna touched so many lives of people I never knew, some who stayed in contact years after treatment.

As a child of a World War II veteran who came home from the Pacific Theater with three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star and those invisible scars that took years to heal, she found a calling midway through her career of counseling veterans at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center  suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following that 10-year stint, she counseled Purdue University students, many who followed her after she left Purdue.

In her private practice, for years Donna would see clients even when their insurance companies didn’t want to pay. Rather than battle the insurance companies or put pressure on the client, Doc Donna, as some clients called her, just continued to counsel for free or for just a fraction of her rate.

As her oncologist said, it’s grossly unfair that a woman who helped so many others couldn’t enjoy the fruits of retirement.

She wanted very much to live. Her mind was willing, but the cancer we had hoped once was cured returned too viciously.

The 40th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii planned for this September she wanted so much won’t happen, a cruel lesson not to wait.

Donna, a Carmel resident, earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Penn State University and received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

She leaves behind a husband who she knew loved her deeply but should have teased her less and praised her more; her children, Nicole Ambrogi, Carmel, and Daniel Ambrogi, Fishers, and daughter-in-law, Kristina Ambrogi. Fortunately, she did get to dance at our son’s wedding in April 2023, but sadly she won’t get to hold any future grand baby. As Dan said, she would have been one fabulous grandmother.

She also is survived by brother Leonard Lazarick Jr., and sister-in-law Maureen, Columbia, Md.; sister Kathy Lazarick, and brother-in-law Joe Myshko, Mesa, Ariz.; sister-in-law Pamela Ambrogi, Miami; brother-in-law Jack Ambrogi and wife Mary, Sarasota, Fla; nieces Sarai (Lazarick) Gray, Arbutus, Md., and Rachel (Lazarick) Ward (Kevin), Katie Ambrogi, Washington, D.C.,; and nephew Adam Ambrogi and wife Laiza Otero Garcia, Silver Spring, Md. In addition to five grandnephews and three grandnieces, she leaves behind many great friends who visited her frequently and checked in daily. There also is a chubby black pug named Peyton, who can’t understand why his favorite human hasn’t come home to him.

Visitation will be from 1 to 3 p.m. March 3 at Flanner Buchanan (Carmel), where a funeral service immediately will follow.

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In lieu of flowers, I know Donna would say just be kind to others, reject those who would divide us, take a mental health day when needed, hold your loved ones close and go ahead and schedule that trip now.

Mark Ambrogi, a veteran journalist and an Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association 2023 Hall of Fame Class member, is the Night & Day editor at Current Publishing. You may email him at [email protected].