Adair Funeral Homes - Dodge Chapel
1050 North Dodge Boulevard
Tucson, AZ 85716
(520) 326-4343

Irene (Irena) Chodacznik

1936 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Irene (Irena) Chodacznik Obituary
Irene (Irena) Chodacznik 1/9/1936 - 5/22/2014 Irene, an amazingly energetic and spirited woman, passed away suddenly after developing complications following surgery. She had a fulfilling and interesting life. She was born in Vilno, Poland and was the daughter of Kazimierz and Anna Aleszczyk. As a toddler in 1940 during WWII, she and her parents were suddenly awakened one morning by Russians who forcibly took them by train to Kresty, a work camp in Siberia.They survived for two years on their daily ration of "kipyatok" and a bowl of pea soup. After Hitler invaded Russia, Stalin released the Poles from the camp and her father enlisted in the Polish army. Enlisted families were assisted by the International Red Cross to leave Russia for Persia. She and her mother lived in Ahvaz and Teheran prior to arriving in India. They lived there for four years in a refugee camp, labeled as "displaced person". Once the war was over, they joined her father in London and immigrated to the United States in 1951. In Connecticut several years later, Irene met and married Gene (Gienek) and had two children. They moved to Tucson in 1966. Later, they became founding members of the Tucson Polish Club developing close ties within the Polish community and Polish Solidarity Organization. After her children were grown, Irene focused her energy on helping people and sharing the Polish culture with everyone. She was cherished by many for her tireless work as the Director of a Refugee resettlement program sponsored by the Episcopal Migration Ministries, welcoming legal refugees from Bosnia, Russia, and Vietnam to Tucson. Some of her duties included picking up "her arrivals" at all hours at the airport, finding apartments, helping them find jobs, enrolling them in school, taking them to doctor's appointments or buying groceries. She loved helping many start a new life in a foreign country just as she was helped as an early "refugee". For many years, she was instrumental in preparing and arranging the Polish food and activities during Tucson's Meet Yourself, an annual downtown event that celebrates the authentic cultural and ethnic diversity of Tucson with various ethnic foods, folk art, music and dance. She worked as an instructor in the Critical Language Department at the University of Arizona teaching Polish as a second language. She relished this opportunity to teach her native language to eager students. Very often she provided free tutoring at her home with tea and cookies. Her students, as she called them, were her "second set of children" and many still kept in touch. She was frequently called upon as a Polish interpreter for the Pima County Court system and received a commemorative Certificate of Appreciation for her dedicated and loyal service. Gene preceded Irene in death in June 2009 after celebrating their golden wedding anniversary a year earlier. Irene is survived by her two children, Barbara (Gene Beck) from Vallejo CA, and Rick (Eva) from Tucson, their families, and many cousins and relatives in Poland. As a long time parishioner and choir member at St. Cyril's Catholic Church, Memorial Services and Celebration of Life will be held there on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Vincent De Paul of Southern AZ (www.svdptucson.org). Arrangements by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Dodge Chapel.
Published in the Arizona Daily Star on June 8, 2014
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