Krystyna Kwiecien (Cycling) was born in Lodz, Poland on November 24, 1925. Her life’s motto can be taken from the lyrics of her favorite crooner, Frank Sinatra: “I did it my way!” She died as she wished in her home with her daughter and son present on August 15, 2018 after a long period of declining health.
She was grateful for every day and would often remind everyone that “Life passes by too quickly; live it to the fullest.”
That she did starting with her childhood in Poland, spent in comfortable middle class
surroundings. The youngest of four (she outlived siblings Zosia, Amanda, and Robert) she enjoyed summers in the countryside, sneaking out of classroom windows to go out and play, and tapping messages on drainpipes at night to secretly rendezvous with friends. Krys always had an element of rascal in her.
Life changed drastically with the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, and the end of WWII found her and sister Amanda riding bicycles through Germany ahead of the Soviet Army to get to the American sector. At the Displaced Persons’ camp in Bremen she found safety, work, and husband, Henry. They married on November 26, 1949, honeymooning in Garmisch Partenkirchen thanks to the generosity of an American colonel, with whom they remained in touch for many years.
In 1951 they immigrated to the US on the USS General Hersey with daughter Ilona. Starting out anew in South Boston presented its challenges, but they were grateful for all the opportunities their new home offered. Son George, arrived in 1952.
In a bold and courageous move in 1959, after obtaining their US citizenship, Krys and Henry used up their savings (except for $100 left with the landlord) and returned to Poland with their children for the entire summer to visit family and friends left behind; it was a wonderful time of joy and tears. The trip confirmed for them that they had made the right decision to make the US their home. Miraculously their jobs were waiting for them when they returned!
Krys began her working career as an office cleaning woman on the night shift at the old John Hancock building. When an opening as file clerk became available at the Continental Insurance Company, she took the position and over the next 30 years worked her way up to become an inside adjuster; she credited several good bosses and mentors who were able to overcome her resistance to each well-deserved promotion. She enjoyed working, and the respect with which she was held was reflected in the lavish retirement party which the company threw for her.
Krys and Henry were very active in Boston’s Polish community, even after moving to Melrose in 1963 and to Stoneham in 1974. They served on various boards and committees, demonstrated with placards in support of Poland's Solidarity movement, helped new immigrants, and organized dances and formal balls.
Picnics and outings to the seashores, lakes, and mountains of New England with friends were routine. After retirement Krys and Henry moved to Debary, Florida where they quickly connected with the Polish-American Pulaski club in Daytona and rarely missed a Sunday afternoon dance. Krys served for some time on the club's board, could regularly be seen selling raffle tickets and leading the line dancing! “Dancing is my life” was another motto of hers! For many years Krys and Henry would spend several summer weeks in Poland, and once Krys managed to convince Henry to try a cruise, cruising became a regular part of their
lives! They were able to visit many places in the US and Europe as the Army kept transferring daughter Ilona. Saudi Arabia also became a destination to visit their son and daughter-in-law Sandy, who lived and worked there for a number of years. Spoiling grandchildren Kristen, Kaitlin, Kailee, and Connor was a matter of course; Krys couldn’t make enough of her famous meatballs. She was thrilled when great-grandsons Paul and Luke were born just nine days apart in 2017!
Krys also counted her blessings in meeting Wally Godlewski after she lost Henry in 2004. She and Wally enjoyed each other’s company, annual cruises to the Caribbean, attending each other’s family events and celebrations, and simply holding hands on the couch. Sundays would also find them at the Polish American Club, even at 92! Krys was still a regular at the YMCA pumping iron and joining in aerobics classes at 90!
A service of thanksgiving and celebration of Krys’ life will be held at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to either the Polish-American Pulaski Club of Daytona, 3621 West International Speedway Blvd. Daytona Beach FL 32124 or to Ascentria Care Alliance, Services for New Americans, 261 Sheep Davis Road, A-1, Concord, NH 03301.