Although Audrey Lukaszewicz filled her life with people and experiences that greatly enriched her journey, there was nothing that was of greater significance to her than being surrounded by the love of her family. She was the matriarch of her family, the glue that held them all together, and completely selfless when it came to meeting their needs. Audrey was also a woman of faith who was gracious, generous, and genuine, with a heart that was just as sweet as they come. Life was not without times of trial for her, but she was filled with a quiet strength and a graceful courage that were truly inspiring. Perhaps the role Audrey treasured most was that of grandmother as she truly savored every moment she had to spend with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A longtime resident of the community she loved, she will be forever missed.
The Roaring Twenties were an exciting time in American history when innovation was leading the way to countless transformations within our culture. Radios, washing machines, and motion pictures in both color and sound were signs of the time while cars were more affordable because of the widespread implementation of the assembly line. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1926 when Fred and Anna Schleif were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as the year was drawing to a close in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The big day arrived on the last day of the year, December 31st when the baby girl they named Audrey drew her first breath. She was the second of four children in her family as she was raised in their home on Potter Avenue in the Bay View area of Milwaukee alongside her older sister, Beatrice, and her younger brother, Robert, as well as her younger sister, Anita. Faith and family were of the utmost importance in the Schleif home, and Audrey was a lifelong member of Christ Church United Church of Christ.
In many ways, Audrey was a young girl of her generation. As the prosperity of the 1920s gave way to the trying days of the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, things were rough for Audrey and her family as well. In addition, her father died when she was just 10. Although they were what would be considered poor, Audrey never really realized it since her mother just had a way of making things work. She liked riding her brother’s bike despite her mother telling her that girls don’t ride bikes. This independent spirit was passed along to her children. Audrey attended elementary school at Dover Street School where she met her lifelong friend, Betty, in kindergarten. She went on to graduate from Bay View High School in 1944.
Life was forever changed for Audrey when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Raymond Lukaszewicz, and they met when she was convinced to go on a blind date with the best friend of the young man who her sister, Beatrice, was dating. It was Raymond’s birthday that day, and the couples went roller skating. Sparks flew right from the start, and they were inseparable from that point forward. With the desire to establish a life together, Ray and Audrey were married on May 22, 1948. The newlyweds went to New Jersey for a short time, but they later made their way back to Wisconsin. Ray worked as a machinist while Audrey worked in accounts receivable for Mt. Sinai Hospital where she remained until retiring after 30 years of service.
The couple purchased their first house at 4452 New York Avenue in St. Francis, Wisconsin, in 1952. Audrey made it their home, and this is where Audrey and Ray welcomed their four children, Thomas, Denise, and twins, Dean and Dale, into their hearts and home. Audrey worked first shift while Ray worked second shift, which always allowed one parent to be home with their children. She and her husband were both very active in the lives of their children including in their education and scouting, as well as supporting them in their life choices. There were also fun-filled family vacations in Eagle River, Rhinelander, and Lake Nokomis.
As her children grew, Audrey continued keeping her family at the center of her life. She had a way of making holidays memorable through her decorating or the special activities she had planned. Audrey was thrilled to become a grandmother, and she often invited her grandchildren over to make Christmas cookies and candies as well as homemade crafts they could give as gifts. Audrey was the matriarch of their extremely wholesome family. Both she and Ray were also very committed to their extended family, and for years they were very involved in caring for Audrey’s special needs sister, Anita, until Anita’s death.
Both Audrey and Ray lived very active lives. They were very creative crafters who worked together – Ray with his woodworking while Audrey painted and decorated the items he made. She also did her own pieces of art featuring wildlife and the outdoors. Audrey and her husband were involved with the H.A. Todd Jr. American Legion Post # 537 for many years with Audrey being very involved in the Ladies Auxiliary. Together they enjoyed traveling and square dancing, which took them across the country. Audrey and Ray were also snowbirds who traveled to San Diego to visit their daughter, Denise, and her husband. Their travels also took them to Alaska, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Door County, to a dude ranch, and on a cruise. Audrey was an avid reader and she enjoyed golfing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing.
Later in life Audrey was deeply saddened when the love of her life died on December 23, 2010. Audrey and Ray relied heavily on each other and when she lost him, her health slowly started to fail. She moved to an independent living facility for two years and then to an assisted living facility, Creekside Manor in Oak Creek where she lived for two years.
When reflecting on the life of Audrey Lukaszewicz, it is easy to see that her heart was focused on faith, family, and fun. Although she could be a bit stubborn at times, she was a passionate woman who was determined in the things she did. Audrey was known for saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” and she could always find the beauty in anything. She will never be forgotten.
Audrey Lukaszewicz died on July 17, 2015. Audrey’s family includes her children, Thomas (Helen) Lukaszewicz, Denise (James) Payne, Dean (Carol) Lukaszewicz and Dale (Suzie) Lukaszewicz; 6 grandchildren (Amy, Sara, Adam, Paul, Jennie, and Laura); 4 great-grandchildren (Ella, Ruby, Ozzie, and Everet); and other relatives and friends. Audrey was preceded in death by her beloved husband Raymond P. Lukaszewicz. Family and friends will gather to celebrate Audrey’s life Tuesday, July 21 at the Funeral Home from 4:00 p.m. until time of the Memorial Service at 7:00 p.m. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Niemann / Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave (414) 744-5156, www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com.
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