Visitation for Zofia Lewandowicz Zakrzewski, 98, will be held Tuesday, June 30, 2020 from 10:00 AM, until the time of the Funeral Service at 11:00 AM, at the Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home, 201 N. Northwest Highway, Palatine. An Interment will follow at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, 1400 S. Wolf Rd., Hillside, IL.
Zofia was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and devoted friend to all whose lives she touched. She passed away peacefully, on June 14, 2020.
Zofia is survived by her children Eva (Tom) Nelson of Prospect Heights, IL and Adam (Sheila) Zakrzewski of Naples, FL; grandsons David Zakrzewski of Fort Myers, FL and Michael (Josephine) Zakrzewski, of Brooklyn, NY; nieces, nephews and their families in Poland, England and the U.S. Zofia was preceded in death by husband Klemens in 1975.
Born in Lodz, Poland in 1922, Zofia grew up as one of five siblings in a loving, close-knit and religious family. By 1929 the family had moved to Wilejka near Wilno, putting them in the path of Stalin’s 1939 invasion. This brought dispossession of the family home, her father’s arrest and disappearance, and family deportation to Siberia, to face privation, illness, and her mother’s death.
Zofia’s journey continued through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Iran (Tehran). In Palestine (Nazareth) she earned a BA in education at the Polish military school for girls, Junaczki School. Via the British government’s Polish Resettlement Corps, she arrived at Camp Whitley in England, and soon met Polish Army Lieutenant Klemens Zakrzewski. Married June 1948 in Edinburgh, Scotland, they embarked on the final leg of their refugee journey, docking at Ellis Island on April 12, 1951, to build their new lives in America.
Everyone who knew Zofia can tell a story about how being around her was an uplifting and inspirational experience. She was a wonderful woman who would light up the room with her smile and laughter. She loved being around people, loved engaging people, loved helping people. Throughout her life she always put the needs and desires of family and friends ahead of her own. She gave to others, often even if that meant she herself might go without.
Despite her demanding roles as wife, mother, and homemaker, Zofia pursued a wide variety of interests and adventures. She demonstrated her entrepreneurial skills and creativity by designing and making fashionable clothing for family and friends, sewing home décor and even doll outfits that she would sell on consignment at the local Ben Franklin store. To support herself after widowhood, Zofia bought and managed an apartment building for many years.
Zofia pursued her American citizenship with the zeal that only someone who had been oppressed by communism could appreciate, all the while remaining a devout Polish patriot. She took active roles in Chicago Polish benevolent and social organizations. Some of her most cherished, lasting relationships were with former schoolmates, also immigrants to America, with whom she had survived difficult times.
Two of Zofia’s notable achievements originate in her deep Catholic faith and her patriotism for Poland. In the early 1980s she helped organize the international Polish community effort to create an iconic mosaic of the Virgin Mary within the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The church is decorated with mosaics from all over the world depicting Mary’s Assumption, and in 1983 Zofia led the pilgrimage to the Holy Land to dedicate and bless this mural.
Many of Zofia’s former Middle East schoolmates were among the Polish fighters who liberated the abbey at Monte Cassino, Italy, from Axis forces in a major WW II Allied breakthrough. In 1989 Zofia traveled to the Monte Cassino Polish cemetery for a commemoration of Polish soldiers buried there. Then in Rome she and her companions were honored with a private audience and blessing by Pope John Paul II, the first Polish Pope.
Zofia was one of the strongest, toughest, perseverant women that her family and friends knew. She was also kind, generous, loving, and beloved. She will be missed. May God bless her with eternal peace.
Flowers are welcomed.
Services will be streamed live at: https://webcast.funeralvue.com/events/viewer/31623