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Janina "Jean" Babiec

Janina "Jean" Babiec Obituary
PAWTUCKET – Janina "Jean" Babiec died peacefully Tuesday December 24th, 2019 at the Bethany Home in Providence. The daughter of the late Joachim and Honorata (Sieroslawska) Kiluk. She was the wife, for fifty-two years, of the late Francis "Frank" Babiec. Jean is survived by her son, Daniel F. Babiec D.M.D. and his wife, Debra Duffy-Babiec of Virginia, her daughter, Cheryl N. Babiec, of Pawtucket, and her three grandchildren: Thaddeus, Olivia, and Catherine Babiec. She enjoyed the antics of her dog, Jake.
Though a transplant to Pawtucket from New Bedford, MA in the midst of her senior year in high school, Jean had immersed herself into her new community, an inclination that would define the direction followed throughout her life.
Activist, visionary, and fierce are three descriptions that help to create an impression of Jean. When faced with challenges, her level of determination to succeed only elevated! She was never one to readily accept, "It can't be done"!
Jean's involvements are numerous! A position as a P.T.A. president lead to a state level position within the organization. She later became a member, serving as secretary, of a project area committee known as PACER. Jean along with others such as Mabel Anderson, began to make a formidable impact in the community. While becoming involved in other community and state level committees, she had pursued her secondary education through the University of Rhode Island's Continuing Education for Women program (CEW), becoming a graduating member of one of the first CEW classes in 1971. She would go on to teach in Providence for twenty years. At one point, she had received a fellowship to the Marie Curie University in Lublin, Poland.
Her fierce determination can be exemplified when Jean was appointed to serve as chair of the Bicentennial Commission in 1986. During this time, Slater Mill was being commemorated with a stamp being issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Initially, the ceremony was to take place in Providence. Resulting from Jean's efforts, the dedication ceremony had taken place on the grounds of the Slater Mill. Jean had advocated (twice) for legislative support in procuring a license plate in support of the Pawtucket Red Sox long before the thought of losing the team was rumored.
Jean's visionary tendency was exhibited when she was appointed to Pawtucket's Planning Commission. She would always seek new ideas to revitalize or improve Pawtucket, traveling or conducting her own research to present her findings for consideration. One such idea involved the military and their selling of amphibian crafts for a nominal fee. She saw the potential for using the crafts to conduct rides or explorations on the Blackstone River. Though her idea was not accepted, other communities would later utilize these crafts to promote their riverfronts. Boston's Duck Tours was one example.
Jean has held many leadership positions as Commissioner or Chairperson for many of the organizations that she had served on, such as the RI Heritage Commission, American and Polish Cultural Commission, Pawtucket Planning Commission, Polish Holocaust Commemorative Committee of the RI Heritage Commission, Polish Subcommittee of the RI Heritage Commission, the RI Bicentennial Foundation, Pawtucket "86" Centennial Committee and friends of Poland in New Bedford, MA. as examples. As chairman of the statewide clothing drive in Rhode Island in 1981, she coordinated efforts with the National Guard, Hasbro, area businesses and churches resulting in more than 200 tons of clothing sent to Poland, a country under Marshall Law at the time. She was also the state's liaison for the Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, D.C. in 1983. Jean co-authored the book entitled "Polish in RI…A Proud Legacy", which is a historical account of Polish Americans in Rhode Island.
Over time, Jean was an active member in an extensive number of other clubs or organizations such as the Boston Malacological Club, Pawtucket Preservation Society, Summit Club of RI, and church groups. Her volunteer efforts were extensive. Jean was a translator for the International House/the initial Tall Ships. She organized and taught English language classes within the community. Her past volunteer efforts had extended to Pawtucket Community Players, The Pawtucket Arts Council, and Memorial Hospital (10 years). She was also a civilian volunteer with the National Guard in support of their E.S.G.R. program.
Jean's efforts had received recognition in a variety of Who's Who (American Educators, Polish Americans, and Rhode Island) and along with numerous citations, awards, or accolades. In 1999, Jean's efforts were recognized on the global stage. Her humanitarian efforts were Acknowledged by the President of Poland when she was awarded the "Krzyz Kawalerski Orderu Zaslugi" or the Distinguished Cavalier Service Cross from President Kwasnieski of Poland in a ceremony presented by the Polish Consulate General in New York. The cross is one of Poland's highest recognition awards and is given to individuals who make exceptional contributions to international cooperation between Poland and other nations.
Her loving husband Frank, who had supported Jean with all of her endeavors, was her Polka dancing partner for life. Together they had traveled through the United States and abroad extensively. A highlight of Jean's "later" excursions, was traveling to Poland with her grandchildren.
As time passed, Jean's efforts never ceased even when she had officially "retired". She would continue to write letters and make phone calls to promote an idea by offering suggestions to advocate and enhance her "adopted" community. She was inducted into Pawtucket's Hall of Fame in 2017 and had recently received the Key to the City.
Jean's life was well lived over the course of nine decades!
Relatives and friends are welcome to attend Calling Hours Friday January 10, 2020 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Karol A. Romenski & Sons Funeral Home 342 High Street, Central Falls, RI followed by a Prayer Service in the Funeral Home at 7:00 p.m. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jean's memory to 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104, Hasbro Children's Hospital, 595 Eddy Street, Providence, RI or St. Jude Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105-3678
Published in The Providence Journal on Jan. 8, 2020
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