Leokadia Z. Rowinski

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HOLYOKE - Leokadia Z. Rowinski, 93, passed away at home in the most peaceful way imaginable Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, with family by her side.

She was born in Warsaw, Poland, the daughter of Kazimierz and Zofia (Kunert) Grzeslak. In 1939, after the Nazis occupied Poland, Leokadia secretly continued her education even though this was a crime punishable by death. She joined the Polish Home Army and as a member of the Underground Resistance received intensive training as a war nurse and later as a communication technician, acquiring knowledge of radio, field telephone, map reading and use of firearms. Captured after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, she spent six months in three German POW camps. The last of these, Oberlangen, was liberated in April of 1945 by the First Polish Armored Division under British command.

Stanislaw Rowinski was part of that liberation force; they met, fell in love and were married in 1946. They lived in Belgium and England before emigrating to the U.S. in 1951, to Holyoke, where they raised their family.

Leokadia was a lifelong communicant of Mater Dolorosa Parish where for many years she taught Polish to parochial school children.

Leokadia was predeceased by her husband Stanislaw in 2007, her brother Zygmunt Grzeslak and her sister Maria (Grzeslak) Smolenska of Warsaw, Poland, and her dearest and closest lifelong friend and fellow resistance fighter Hanna (Gurr) Jazlowiecki of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

She is survived by her children Barbara Walker and her husband Bruce of Whately, Mark Rowinski of Franklin, her long-term caregivers Anna and Christine Rowinski, Thomas Rowinski of Florence and Roman Rowinski of South Hadley. She is also survived by her grandchildren Julia Rowinski of Easthampton, and Monica Rowinski and her husband David Coullahan of Bellingham, and her nephews Kazimierz Grzeslak, his wife Maureen and their daughter Maria of Bedford, New Hampshire, and Michal Grzeslak in Poland, and her nieces Krysia Grzeslak and Hanna (Smolenska) Muras in Poland.

Leokadia received her associates degree in environmental sciences from Holyoke Community College in 1973 and worked for over 13 years as the color lab director at Hampden Papers where her proudest achievement was developing the color formula for "Mary Kay Pink" for that company's product packaging. She was an extremely creative person who loved the rhythm of words and the music of language, a published author of three books, most notably That the Nightingale Return, her memoir of the war years, and a collection of poetry in both Polish and English. She was someone who continuously saw and marveled at the extraordinary beauty of ordinary everyday things. Leokadia was a member of the Polish-American Congress of Western Massachusetts and the Circle of Veterans of the Polish Home Army. She was inaugurated into the 2007 Alumni Hall of Recognition at Holyoke Community College as a distinguished graduate.

Our family would like to extend special thanks to Helena Kruczkowski and to Jane Muszynski-Land for the deep friendship, love and kindness shown toward our Mother and her children over so many years. We also extend our deepest gratitude to WestMass ElderCare and to Baystate VNA and Hospice.

A funeral service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton St.. Interment will follow at St. Michael the Archangel Mausoleum in Springfield. Calling hours will be held prior to the service from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Baystate VNA and Hospice, WestMass ElderCare, or to the Polish Center of Discovery and Learning in Chicopee.

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to legacy.com/obituaries/gazettenet.
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Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home
2049 Northampton Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 16, 2017