With her kind heart and generous spirit, Alice Siedlecki touched the lives of so many within her church and community. She consistently looked for ways in which she could help fulfill the needs of others, and even received a special volunteer award for her efforts. Alice loved traveling the globe, but was happiest in her Milwaukee neighborhood. To Alice, life was not about material possessions or longs lists of accomplishments, but rather it was about serving her Lord and treasuring her beloved family.
By 1919, things were looking up in America. We had emerged from WWI as a world leader and both business and industry were expanding to meet peacetime needs. Families helped families – coming together for the greater good, and so often found joy in the relationships they fostered with each other. It was also in this year that John and Elizabeth (Gierszewski) Jankowski, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Alice, on June 6th. Alice joined older sisters Sally, Blanche, Stella, Pearl, and Harriet, and older brothers Casimir and Raymond, and with the birth of her younger sister Angeline, their family was complete. Alice was raised in the family home in the bustling Brady Street neighborhood on the east side of Milwaukee where her mother was a homemaker who cared not only for their home, but for their active family as well. Alice’s father was of Polish descent and spent most of his adult life working at a tannery in Milwaukee.
Life was forever changed for Alice when she was set up on a blind date by one of her friends. Her date was a charming young man named Felix “Phil” Siedlecki, and the couple went out for dinner, and quickly discovered there was an immediate attraction between them. After dating for a time, Alice became Mrs. Felix Siedlecki on August 24, 1954, marking the beginning of a new chapter in their love story. Alice and Phil settled in her childhood home where Alice would remain for nearly her entire life. She loved her neighborhood and could often be seen walking down Brady Street to catch the bus whether it was to go shopping, to attend church services or activities, or to simply run necessary errands.
While Phil worked as a supervisor for a box company, Alice worked at a local shoe factory, but once she married, she cut her hours there down to part-time. Later in life, Alice worked in the deli department at Gimbels Schusters, a department store located in downtown Milwaukee, where she remained for over 10 years.
Faith was always an important cornerstone in Alice’s life and she was a life-long member of St. Hedwig Parish. After this parish merged with St. Rita’s and Holy Rosary to become Three Holy Women Parish, Alice made new friends and continued to volunteer her time. At church, she often counted money, belonged to the Altar Society, the Rosary Society, and to Christian Women. Alice also helped clean the church and often worked at rummage sales and craft sales. Her faith was always so vibrant to Alice, and it became her source of strength during the days that followed her husband’s death in 1966.
Her church was not the only place that was touched by Alice’s compassionate spirit. She also was a committed volunteer within her neighborhood through her affiliation with the Brady Street Association. Alice often baked treats for neighborhood meetings, helped with registration and sales at neighborhood events, and for years she helped prepare newsletter mailings. Although she and Phil never had any children of their own, Alice spent a lot of time helping to care for her nieces and nephews, and loved them as though they were her own.
In addition to volunteering her time, Alice loved crafting, especially knitting, crocheting, and doing needlepoint. She met numerous friends through a local crafting club for seniors. The annual holiday craft fair through her church often showcased craft items and baked goods that Alice had a hand in creating. In fact, Alice loved baking and was usually the first to volunteer to bring a cake or cookies for the bake sales, festivals, and neighborhood meetings. She and her sister Harriet often tried new recipes and were quick to share them with anyone who would ask. Alice also loved traveling to destinations such as Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean with friends, although she always enjoyed returning home to Milwaukee.
Alice remained in her home on Warren Avenue until 2004. Alice had been tenderly caring for her sister Harriet after Harriet’s husband George died in 2001. In 2004, Harriet moved to Milwaukee Catholic Home, soon after, Alice moved into an assisted living apartment there in order to remain near her sister. By that time, their brother Ray had already moved into the Milwaukee Catholic Home as well.
Alice Siedlecki was an extraordinary woman who loved caring for those around her in whatever way she could. She enjoyed a diverse palette of interests while bringing warmth and kindness to everyone within her reach. Alice loved baking and sharing her goodies with others, and friends and family always knew they could go to her for recipe suggestions. Alice was truly a rare gem who sparkled with the love in her heart, and she will be dearly missed by all those she leaved behind.
Alice T. Siedlecki died on August 21, 2009. Alice’s family includes nieces, nephews, and other friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Felix “Phil” Siedlecki; sisters, Sally Gajewski, Blanche Smaida, Stella Peplinski, Pearl Gretza, Harriet Kozik, and Angeline Tilidetzke; brothers, Casimir Jankowski and Raymond Jankowski. Visit with Alice’s family and friends on Tuesday August 25 at Three Holy Women Parish – St. Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Ave. from 9:00 a.m. until time of Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com, where you can leave a favorite memory or photo, sign the online guestbook, or make a memorial contribution to Three Holy Women Parish Legacy Fund.