Antoinette Marie "Bear" (Venetski) Niedzwiecki

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Antoinette Marie (Venetski) "Bear" Niedzwiecki, 91, passed away peacefully on May 15, 2013.

Born Jan. 19, 1922, she was a daughter of Anella (Winnicki) Venetski. Antoinette grew up on the Winnicki farm near Lake Silkworth. She attended a nearby one-room schoolhouse until the eighth grade. Like many farm girls, during the Depression of the 1930s, she moved to the city - Kingston - to work as a live-in maid.

At a weekend dance near Lake Silkworth, she met her future husband, Peter "Bear" Niedzwiecki, who preceded her in death in July 2010. Being devout Catholics, they married Nov. 9, 1940, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Lake Silkworth.

She lived her entire married life within 15 miles of her birthplace, first at Sylvan Lake and then at Red Rock Mountain. Their marriage produced three children, Leona, 1942-1998, Leo 1950-2009, and Edward. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren are dispersed from next door to California.

In the early years, along with raising her family, she supported her husband, Peter, in business as an independent timber contractor with cutting and trucking crews, and then helped grow Bear Excavating and Bear Fuel Service into the successful third generation of family operators it is today.

Her nickname in younger years was "Toots" or "Tootsie." Soon after Antoinette and Peter were married, they purchased a lakefront summer cottage at Sylvan Lake and rebuilt it into a year-round residence. She enjoyed summer flowers, backyard picnics, swimming and ice skating parties at the lake throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

In 1970, Antoinette, Peter and Leo moved back to the mountain to property they owned near Red Rock Mountain.

One of Antoinette's personal fortes was cooking. Family members will recall with fond memories home-cooked holiday meals with piled-high serving dishes of seasonal and Polish traditional foods all competing for space on the table and sideboards. Another pastime was attending church picnics to dance and listen to polka bands. Her favorite television shows were the Lawrence Welk show and, of course, Polka Time.

Leona's daughter, Loreen (Auchus) McGill, resides in Euclid, Ohio, with her husband, Tom McGill, and their two children, Alexandria and Peter James. Leo's family, his wife, Barbara, who was Antoinette's primary caregiver, daughter, Leanne, who was also a caregiver, and son, Peter John, reside near Red Rock Mountain. Leo's son, Tracy, his wife, Bernadine, and their daughters, Braeden and Coveyn, also live nearby. Eddie resides in Camarillo, Calif., and his daughter, Rachelle, lives in San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., with her husband, Michael Weed.

Antoinette's extended family was raised in Avoca, including two brothers that preceded her in death, Teddy Daczka and Edwin Daczka; surviving brother, Charlie Daczka, Avoca; and surviving sisters, Francie Evans, Scranton, Sandra Wassel, Old Forge, and Sally Grossie, Scranton.

Antoinette's family wishes to acknowledge the excellent in-home care provided by Barbara and Leanne, caregivers Beth Kingsbury and Lorraine Austin, nurse Jen Seymour of Caregivers of America Hospice, plus the concerns of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and the health care community at Geisinger Medical Health Systems.

Mrs. Niedzwiecki's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday from the Curtis L. Swanson Funeral Home Inc., corner of Routes 29 and 118, Pikes Creek. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:30 a.m. from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Lake Silkworth, with the Rev. Richard Fox officiating. Friends may call from 10 a.m. until the time of service. Interment will be in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery, Lake Silkworth.

The family requests that memorial contributions be sent to Caregivers of America, 718 S. State St., Clarks Summit, PA 18411.

Online condolences can be made at
Published in Times Leader on May 18, 2013