Friday, July 21, 2017
2:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
Rosary 7 PM
Saturday, July 22, 2017
10:00 AM EDT
St. Valentine Catholic Church
14841 Beech Daly Rd
Redford, MI 48239
Instate 9:30 AM
Life Story / Obituary
Barbara Ann Wojtaszek lived her life with a full and content heart. Not a day went by without her finding a reason to celebrate it. Her life was admirably lived without a single regret, and she would find enormous joy knowing that we have wiped our tears and sadness away to join her in rejoicing that she is now reunited with Paul, Cheryl, and so many others who have gone before us. She was devoted to caring for others throughout every stage in her life, and we must now honor her fully by celebrating all the memories we shared with such a good spirit. Few people are blessed to have a wife, mother, mother-in-law, cousin or soul sister like her.
The dawning of a new decade brought in the year of 1940. The United States was finally beginning to feel some relief from The Great Depression, but WWII raged on abroad. American citizens rolled up their sleeves to help with the war efforts manning factories or merely planting vegetable gardens to lessen the burden of the low food supply. The country supported Franklin D. Roosevelt who was elected to an unprecedented third term in office. Closer to home, in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, Louis and Pearl (Romanowski) Kwiatkowski were looking forward to becoming parents for the first and only time in their lives. On September 23, 1940, they welcomed their daughter, Barbara Ann, into the world.
Her parents were no stranger to hard work, and they certainly ingrained this quality into their daughter. Barbara's father started working as a coal miner at the tender age of 14, for he lied about his age to afford the opportunity so early. Her mother worked in a silk factory, and Barbara learned this skill from her as a youth. Because she was an only child, she was able to spend quality time sewing, tatting lace, and baking bread and blueberry pies with her mother; however, she and her father shared the love of watching sports and reading together on regular occasions as well. Though she was an only child, she had the delight of numerous cousins with whom she created many magical childhood memories.
In time, much of the family left the mines to find opportunity in Detroit's booming auto industry, and this is how Barb came to reside in Michigan. Academically, Barbara was a good student who received many awards in English and penmanship. Her beautiful handwriting is a definite keepsake for anyone who was lucky enough to preserve her notes, as it was truly a work of art. After high school, she attended Detroit College of Business from which she graduated with honors. Aside from her education, which she valued greatly, she had many other interests. She loved animals (especially dogs), she enjoyed caring for them. She also found immense pleasure in nature, so sledding, ice skating, canoeing, and horseback riding were some of her favorite outdoor ventures. These were also all activities that she would later share with her children. Barb loved life. This was evident from her earliest of days. She loved to dance and listen to all types of music. She favored polkas, Elvis and anything from the 50's rock and roll billboards.
Upon earning her college diploma, she became Ford Motor Company's executive secretary for the South American division. Barb was not one to settle in and stay put; instead, her passion was always to be a life-long learner. Through her natural curiosity, she started to explore computers. Soon, she founded the computer program for the students at St. Valentine School. She had the pleasure of a 24-year career, but she worked so many more hours in so many other roles unrelated to her actual job. And for every hour she worked, she made it look like it was no work at all, for helping and being with others was her true calling in life.
She also taught at St. Michael's in Southfield and St. Michael’s of Livonia. Barb became very close with the Felician Sisters who taught at the schools. She greatly admired their dedicated and passionate efforts to help all students succeed. She shared in their gifted ability to help students overcome their fears and try new things.
She was affectionately known as Mrs. W to her many students, and they knew they could always count on her to help guide them in the right direction. She taught religious education to students making their First Communion. In this role, she would hand make the students stained glass crosses as a special gift to signify the blessed occasion in their lives. With the Women’s Club, she spent time every Christmas dressing and fixing up dolls for the Goodfellows to give to children in need. And this was just like Barb, she would always go out of her way to do, say or make something special with kind gestures and gifts for all the people in her life. Any time she had a chance to give back, you could count on Barb to say yes. She had the unique energy to make every person feel special. She was a person who truly listened to and counseled countless people through many difficult different phases of their lives – some happy, some sad. Her attention and love were always unconditional, no matter what the situation was, she always made friends feel like it was going to be ok. She provided support for her family and friends through thick and thin. She was always the first one offering help when someone was sick or in need of a ride to an appointment. She was always willing to be there, and she was always thinking of others first.
Barb was rewarded with an everlasting love when she met Paul Wojtaszek. The two met at a wedding reception, and their relationship quickly grew. The happy couple finally rang wedding bells of their own and celebrated a honeymoon at the Fountain Blue Hilton in Miami Beach. The newlyweds did not waste much time before starting their adventures in parenthood. They joyfully welcomed three daughters into the world; Catherine, Carole, and Cheryl completed their family. Together, she and Paul always supported each other in their career ambitions and family obligations, and raising their daughters was their greatest joy in life. With their loving relationship as the foundation for the family, they wanted their daughters to be strong, independent women who would succeed in whatever they chose to pursue. Their support had no limits, yet they allowed the girls to make mistakes and pick themselves up - but as loving parents, they always stepped in at the perfect time to help.
Barb was an involved and caring mother. She was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, but she did more than step into existing roles. Instead, she showed her children how to find the flair for life. She showed her children the world through reading, music, art, travel, theater, and sporting events (especially her love of the Detroit Red Wings!). She stressed and taught trust, honesty, and respect. She also held education as one of the most important pursuits. Whether it was formal or informal, or just a new interest, she always challenged her children to do more. Not to discredit her ability to teach discipline, for Barb absolutely instilled this in her daughters' lives, but she did so by helping them to continue to grow, have fun, and continuously try new things.
The Wojtaszek house was always known to be the hub of activity in the neighborhood. This was because of Barb's genuine love for everyone. Block parties typically were based at her home, and when there was not a party planned, all the kids could count on Barb to have a craft or art project ready to go. Her stained glass projects were always a hit, and all thanks to her late cousin, Louise, who encouraged her to take a class. Barbara immediately took to the art, and she created many beautiful pieces which are now artifacts of her love surrounding us. They will continue to make the existing light more beautiful with all their bright color (just as Barbara would like!).
She always looked forward to Halloween. She would decorate with great enthusiasm, and there was always something for kids and adults. She had many "adopted" children whom she showered with love and attention. She included her neighbors as part of her family. She would stock the kids up with plenty of candy and promptly get a bonfire going on her driveway. The parents usually walked away in high spirits after sharing a cocktail or two. Having fires and gathering people at her home to enjoy each other’s company was what she loved most in life.
Barb did not need Facebook, as she was the tangible social networker. She reached out to people in person –and talked to them on the phone more than anyone could even imagine. She was multi-dimensional. A testament to her social network is the legacy of friendships that she built and maintained from grade school on. Her heart and arms were always open to everyone. Always.
In time, Barbara faced difficult times on her own when she looked to her loved ones for much-needed support. She was forced to say goodbye to her beloved husband at the young age of 52 and her cherished daughter, Cheryl at the even younger age of 38. Holding on to the love she received from others and the memories she created with Paul and Cheryl, she was able to find goodness in life again. She found the strength to carry on by continuing to help others. Because for Barb, any day that she could help someone was a great day.
Aside from finding pleasure in being there for others, she had many other interests - ironically (but maybe not so much), most of these activities eventually led her to spend time with people while making them feel valued and loved. Another memorable quality Barb possessed was her passion for eating good food! One of her favorites was lobster. She also liked the adventure of travel. The best part about eating and travel, however, is they ultimately brought people together for good conversation and celebration (even if the celebration was because the sky looked especially beautiful). On a typical day, it was not uncommon for Barb to get out the crystal for the bottle of wine she looked forward to sharing with friends. For Barb, if she could share a good meal it would always mean there would be good stories and fun! Many of her stories would start with “We did this”’ or “or don’t tell them we did that!” Truly, every day was a celebration.
She also loved to work her brain. A challenge was always welcomed in Barbara's presence. Trivia, quiz shows, and puzzles delighted her. She and countless friends and neighbors put together thousands of puzzles over the years. A lot of talk, laughter, and tears took place over the puzzles, and they hold special memories for so many people who were dear to her. During her short times alone, she still loved to knit, cross stitch, sew clothes, and work in her garden.
Throughout her life, in more organized form, Barbara was a Eucharistic Minister. She also participated in Altar Society, Bingo, Women’s Club, St. Val’s Bowling league, rummage sales, and organization of casino trips. She helped and organized volunteers for parish activities like picnics, soup kitchens, anniversary and funeral luncheons and holidays. She also worked as administrative staff at the Church Rectory. She even volunteered to help serve food at the annual 5K fun run.
Through all the involvement in activities, even Barb had to sometimes stop and appreciate the extraordinary ones in her life. As time moved along, she held a very special place in heart for her Uncle Clem. She always told him he was "the best godfather." They looked out for each other and shared a deep love of family. During her brief illness, she found great comfort in the videos he and his family would send her with prayers in Polish and beautiful expressions of support.
Whether you knew her as Barb, Babs, Barbie, Mom, Mrs. W, or Barbara, we are all better for having known her in this lifetime. She leaves behind an amazing legacy. She had the ability to always let you know that YOU were important, that you MATTERED, and that she would be there to help and listen (and she always did this with a smile). We are sad to say goodbye to such a good soul. After 76 years in this life, Barbara Wojtaszek passed away on July 13, 2017. She was surrounded by her family and her closest friends- just as she always wanted to be. We will never forget Barb, as she has left us with precious memories to cherish forever.
Barabara was the loving wife of the late Paul Wojtaszek. Beloved mother of Catherine Paulina Wojtaszek and Carole Anne (Keith) Booms and the late Cheryl Ann Wojtaszek. Dearest aunt to Laurie (Henry Nykiel) D’Angelo, Lindy (Keith) Thompson, Brian (Vida) Warner and David (Katie) Warner. Cherished cousin and devoted friend to many whom she considered her extended family.
The family will receive friends for the celebration of Barb’s life on Thursday from 4-9 p.m. and Friday 2-9 p.m. at Neely Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman).
Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, 10 a.m., Instate 9:30 at St. Valentine in Redford Township. Interment at Holy Sepulchre with luncheon to follow at St. Valentine.
Family asks that memorial contributions be made to St. Valentine, 25881 Dow, Redford, MI 48239.