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Minnesotans To Meet: Foodie, Philanthropist Sue Zelickson

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(credit: CBS) Jamie Yuccas
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Many of us like to consider ourselves foodies, but for one pint-sized almost 80-year-old, the term means charity events, cookbooks and developing new organizations.

Sue Zelickson might be one of the Twin Cities’ notable “ladies who lunch,” but she gets up around 5 a.m. to organize, create and plead with others to help the community.

There’s a lot to love at Good Day Cafe in Golden Valley — the buzz, the atmosphere, the sweet potato pancakes.

Many have shared a meal with Zelickson. She is a James Beard Award winner who founded the local Charlie Awards. You may recognize her picture from her column in Minnesota Monthly, where she got involved in their food and wine experience since its beginning in 1994.

She also crams in hundreds of hours of charity work each year. She founded Women Who Really Cook and Kid’s Cafe at Perspectives Family Center. You can help the cause just by making Lacey Sue Z Cookies, which is an easy mix sold in stores. Proceeds from the line go back to the Kid’s Cafe.

That’s not her only recipe for charity.

“I edited about eight cookbooks for charity. For many years there was more paper on my table than there was food. I started those before there were computers, so it was not as fast as you could do it now,” she said.

Zelickson has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society by selling cookbooks. She is a breast cancer survivor herself. Last year, Sue won the spirit of hope award from the ACS.

Her family was by her side. Her husband Al is a successful dermatologist. Her son Brian followed in dad’s footsteps, while her oldest son Barry is an entrepreneur. Even her grandchildren are following in her footsteps. Her granddaughter Eve recently held a hip-hop dance clinic to raise money for women’s causes, while her grandson is biking from Stillwater to Naples, Fla. to raise money for ACS.

But even those youngsters can’t keep up with Zelickson, who will be 80 in September.

“We decided 60 is the new 80,” she said.

“Do you mean 80 is the new 60?,” Jamie Yuccas corrected.

“Oh, that’s right. I keep saying it wrong all the time. Maybe some people in their 60s do look 80,” Zelickson said.

Zelickson said that she gets everything accomplished because she doesn’t like to sleep much. She gets up by 5 a.m. every day. She also likes having friends younger than her so she’s always learning new things.

The only problem she actually has with getting older is that she’s shrinking. She once stood 5 feet, 2 inches tall, and now she’s only 4 feet, 8 inches in stature. No matter her height, she still may just have the biggest heart.

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