Evelyn Jablonski, age 94, a longtime resident of Stevens Point living in Wausau died on May 7, 2016 at Portage County Health Care Center in Stevens Point surrounded by so many who loved her.
For everyone who knew her, her passage marks the end of an era of being in the presence of an extraordinary woman who loved brilliantly, cared passionately for others, and never lost sight of the value of family and her faith.
Evelyn was born December 22, 1921, the sixth child of August and Martha (Kedrowicz) Rozek. August and Martha lived, worked, and raised a family of eight on a farm in Polonia, a small rural settlement of Polish immigrants in Central Wisconsin. Evelyn had three older brothers (Ernest, Fabian, and Henry), two older sisters (Loretta and Emily), and two younger sisters (Ramona and Theresa).
Evelyn remembered with great affection many childhood visits with her siblings to be with her grandmother, Frances Rozek — August’s mother. “She always had treats and we ate most of her strawberries,” she would later recall. Her father kept a cow for her in his barn and each morning her grandmother came to milk her to make her own butter, cottage cheese, and buttermilk. The big beautiful, 1920-built Polonia Rozek farm home had seven bedrooms, two living rooms, a massive dining room, a full basement with a wood burning stove, and a bathroom with hot and cold running water.
Evelyn spoke often of her father’s kindness and of her mother’s loving resourcefulness. She remembered cooking meals in the hot summer kitchen, picking rocks used to build stone fences, boiling water to wash clothes on a wood stove, and bringing in frozen bedding drying outside in the winter to defrost in the large family dining room. Evelyn recalled that the life on a working farm was hard, but “with so many of us, we had fun.” In the epilogue to a Rozek family early history book assembled by her son Wayne, her eldest daughter, Mary, summed it up this way: “We know that this family whose life centered around the farm worked hard, lived honestly, prayed faithfully, loved fully, and partied whenever they could.”
As the Rozek children began to scatter and build their own lives and families, Evelyn met her future husband, Clem Jablonski (1916-2009) at a dance. They dated for three years and married in 1941 at the Sacred Heart Church in Polonia. The traditional Polish day-after-the-wedding poprawiny celebration at the family farm was quite the party. It would become the stuff of Rozek-Jablonski legend: Clem’s sister’s then boyfriend, Ed Wachowiak, crashed through a floorboard of the porch. Fifty years later at Mom and Dad’s golden wedding anniversary party, Ed was still laughing about and apologizing for the damage wrought by his epic partying.
Evelyn described the days building her and Clem’s family — they would raise five children on Stevens Point’s East side — as the “best time” of her life. During her working years outside the home, Evelyn served as a unit secretary at St. Michael’s hospital and in retirement worked as a volunteer providing ministry services and often caring for elderly family members and others in the tight-knit community she and her husband called home. She and Clem were faithful members of St. Stanislaus parish for nearly seven decades.
Following her husband’s death in January 2009, Evelyn remained in the Stevens Point home that he designed and built for them in 1976 on Simonis Street until 2012, when she moved to Wausau to be closer to her daughter, Mary. She passed away peacefully after a brief illness at the Portage County Health Care Center. She was delighted to be back again in Stevens Point for her final days, and used that precious time to continually reassure loved ones that she was eager and ready to reunite with her beloved husband and the family and friends that had gone before her. Although she lived a rich, full, and meaningful 94 years, those she leaves behind grieve that there will never, ever be another like her. Their grief is tempered by the knowledge of how certain she was of what lay ahead for her and the tender generosity with which she bestowed her blessings of goodwill and love on them clear on through to the very end of her life.
Evelyn is survived by her sisters Emily Jerzak of Stevens Point, Ramona Weisbrod of Stevens Point, and Theresa Rozek of Oshkosh. Also carrying on after Evelyn are her children and their spouses, James and Janet (Klismet) of River Falls WI, Wayne and Denise (Kelly) of Fountain Hills, AZ, Mary (Prill) and Dennis of Wausau WI, Frank and Mary (McCusker) of Madison WI, and Anne and Bob (Otto) of Arlington VA. She is also survived by her grandchildren and their spouses Kristie and Casey (Wickland) of Tempe AZ, Amee and Clint (McClelland) of Denver, Jill and Brad (Bekkum) of Rice Lake, Jack and Courtney (Klecker) of Verona, Abigail Prill of Madison, and Margaret and Ryan Doyle of Minnetonka, MN. Evelyn left for heaven with 15 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren – her and Clem’s sparkling lights of stardust.
A Mass of Christian Burial for Evelyn will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday May 11, 2016 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Rev. Thomas Lindner will officiate. Burial will be in the Guardian Angel Cemetery. Friends and relatives will gather to share memories from 5:00 – 8:00 PM on Tuesday at the Shuda Funeral Chapel – Stevens Point. The Holy Spirit Rosary Society of which she is a member will combine with the general rosary to be prayed at 7:00 PM Tuesday at the funeral chapel. Visitation will also be held from 10:00 – 10:45 AM at Holy Spirit Parish on Wednesday before the funeral mass. A memorial will be established in Evelyn’s name for Holy Spirit Parish in lieu of flowers.
Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.shudafuneral.com