Leokadia Z. Rowinski

  • Born: September 16, 1923
  • Died: February 9, 2017
  • Location: Holyoke, Massachusetts

Barry J Farrell Funeral Home

2049 Northampton Street
Holyoke, MA 01040

Tel. (413) 536-3843

Tribute & Message From The Family

HOLYOKE: Leokadia Z. Rowinski, 93, passed away at home in the most peaceful way imaginable on Thursday, February 9, 2017 with family by her side. She was born in Warsaw, Poland, the daughter of Kazimierz and Zofia (Kunert) Grzeslak. In 1939, after the Nazis occupied Poland, Leokadia secretly continued her education even though this was a crime punishable by death. She joined the Polish Home Army and as a member of the Underground Resistance received intensive training as a war nurse and later as a communication technician, acquiring knowledge of radio, field telephone, map reading and use of firearms. Captured after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, she spent six months in three German POW camps. The last of these, Oberlangen, was liberated in April of 1945 by the First Polish Armored Division under British command. Stanislaw Rowinski was part of that liberation force; they met, fell in love and were married in 1946. They lived in Belgium and England before emigrating to the US in 1951, to Holyoke, where they raised their family. Leokadia was a life-long communicant of Mater Dolorosa Parish where for many years she taught Polish to parochial school children. Leokadia was predeceased by her husband Stanislaw in 2007, her brother Zygmunt Grzeslak and her sister Maria (Grzeslak) Smolenska of Warsaw, Poland, and her dearest and closest lifelong friend and fellow resistance fighter Hanna (Gurr) Jazlowiecki of Victoria, BC, Canada. She is survived by her children: Barbara Walker and her husband Bruce of Whately, Mark Rowinski of Franklin, her long-term caregivers Anna and Christine Rowinski, Thomas Rowinski of Florence and Roman Rowinski of South Hadley. She is also survived by her grandchildren Julia Rowinski of Easthampton, and Monica Rowinski and her husband David Coullahan of Bellingham; and her nephews Kazimierz Grzeslak, his wife Maureen and their daughter Maria of Bedford, NH, and Michal Grzeslak in Poland; her nieces Krysia Grzeslak and Hanna (Smolenska) Muras in Poland. Leokadia received her Associates Degree in Environmental Sciences from Holyoke Community College in 1973 and worked for over 13 years as the Color Lab Director at Hampden Papers where her proudest achievement was developing the color formula for "Mary Kay Pink" for that company's product packaging. She was an extremely creative person who loved the rhythm of words and the music of language, a published author of three books, most notably That the Nightingale Return, her memoir of the war years, and a collection of poetry in both Polish and English. She was someone who continuously saw and marveled at the extraordinary beauty of ordinary everyday things. Leokadia was a member of the Polish-American Congress of Western Massachusetts and the Circle of Veterans of the Polish Home Army. She was inaugurated into the 2007 Alumni Hall of Recognition at Holyoke Community College as a distinguished graduate. Our family would like to extend special thanks to Helena Kruczkowski and to Jane Muszynski-Land for the deep friendship, love and kindness shown toward our Mother and her children over so many years. We also extend our deepest gratitude to WestMass ElderCare and to Baystate VNA and Hospice. A Funeral Service will be held Saturday at 11:00am in the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton Street. Interment will follow at St. Michael the Archangel Mausoleum in Springfield. Calling hours will be held prior to the service from 9:30 to 11:30am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Baystate VNA and Hospice, WestMass ElderCare, or to the Polish Center of Discovery and Learning in Chicopee, MA.


Condolence & Memory Journal



Posted by jacqueline fortescue - great yarmouth, United Kingd   March 11, 2017


I am saddened to hear of the loss of a wonderful woman! My condolences to the whole family and the many close friends and relatives. May she rest in peace.

Posted by Mark Peltier - Holyoke, MA   February 18, 2017

It truly was a pleasure knowing Leokadia and her family while living as neighbors in South Holyoke (1970s).. Her welcoming graciousness, intellectual embrace of the world, community involvement, and love of her family are a few of the inspiring gifts Leokadia has given this world.

Posted by Dale Anne Averill - Englewood, Florida   February 18, 2017

What an extraordinary life and even more extraordinary woman! My deepest condolences to Roman (my brother Mark's old friend) and her entire family and extended family of friends and loved ones. May she Rest In Peace forever and may her memory help heal your loss. Love and prayers...

Posted by Julie Peltier - Holyoke   February 17, 2017

With my deepest sympathy to the CHILDREN and EXTENDED FAMILY of LEOKADIA ROWINSKI.
Among Polish Community, Leokadia Rowinski will be remembered for her deep patriotism to her native Poland, for nurturing Polish language, and preserving Polish culture and Polish traditions. The memory of her will be with us forever.
Spoczywaj w pokoju wiecznym.

Posted by Stefania (Saj) Lech - Southampton, MA   February 17, 2017

To a truly wonderful corages and brave lady there.s another Angel in Heaven my condolences to the Rowinski Family

Posted by A friend from HCC,RL    February 16, 2017

Pani Leokadia was one of my Saturday Polish School teachers at Mater Dolorosa, and a family freind. We spent a lot of time talking about World War II and Poland. For me, that turned into a professional interest, and today I spend lots of time teaching in Mrs. Rowinski's home town, Warsaw.

Deepest condolences to her kids and extended family.

Sursum corda...

Posted by John Micgiel - Old Greenwich, CT - Friend   February 16, 2017

To all the Rowinski clan: My sympathies on the loss of a most special woman. May she -- and all of you -- enjoy peace and light after her long and difficult journey. Thinking of you all.

Posted by Marti Feerick-Urbonas - Seekonk, MA   February 16, 2017

May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.

Posted by Patti & Mike Bagg - Westfield, MA   February 15, 2017

I am so sorry I can't pay my respects to you in person. Barbara, Anna , Christine and the rest of your siblings, please accept my very sincere condolences in the loss of your amazing Mother!

Posted by Wanda Muller - Hadley, MA   February 15, 2017

Your mother was a remarkable woman. Please accept my condolences.

Posted by Joanne Huber - New Paltz, NY   February 15, 2017

A remarkable, creative, and brave woman, your mother left her mark on this world in many wonderful ways. I will always remember our dinners together as families when we were little kids at your apartment in the Battleship blocks in Holyoke. Doug and I are holding your whole family in our thoughts and prayers. With love, light and blessings, Bozena

Posted by Anna Bozena (Cholewa) Bowen - South Hadley, MA - Family Friend   February 15, 2017


We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts, love and prayers are with the family. She was such a wonderful warm and loving person and she will be missed.

Posted by Tricia & Russ Johnson Hennessey - Chicopee, MA - Family Friend   February 15, 2017

Russ & I are very sorry for the family's loss. Leokadia was one of the nicest people I have ever meet. She loved everyone and was so very kind. She will be missed very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Posted by Tricia Hennessey - Chicopee, MA   February 15, 2017


I learned so much about your Mother in the obituary; (I know the passages you wrote). You even look like her, and inherit her goodness. She will come to you in dreams and always watch over you and your family. You were so good to her and will remain deeply connected.
Love, Lorna

Posted by lorna R - Amherst, MA - Friend   February 15, 2017

Please accept my deepest sympathies.

Posted by Heidi Wisniewski - Chicopee, MA   February 15, 2017

What an inspiring life! It was a real honor to read about it. May you R.I.P. and condolences to your family.

Posted by A friend   February 14, 2017