A woman who accomplished so much of which to be proud, Emerence Sajdak was a humble woman whose life was focused on enriching the lives of those around her. She was a woman who was truly beautiful on the inside and out, even described as someone whose touch made the lives of others sparkle. Emmy’s devotion to her family was unmatched, and her skills in the kitchen and on the dance floor had no equal. She was an innovative and creative woman with an entrepreneurial spirit who was not only a pioneer within her industry, but she was also a leader of women in the workforce. Although she will be deeply missed, the impact Em made in her community will remain for generations to come.
As the twenties dawned in America we were making the shift from a nation at war to a nation at peace with the end of WWI in 1919. Changes were around nearly every corner in towns across our nation with innovation that brought us motion pictures with sound and color, took us soaring in the clouds with Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh, and conveniences such as the washing machine and refrigerator. It was in 1921 that a young couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was delighted to announce the birth of their daughter, Emerence Lucille, on April 25th. She was the older of two girls born to her parents, John and Lucille (Sroka) Polczynski, and was raised in the family home near 6th Street and Layton Avenue alongside her sister, Adell. Their parents ran a local tavern, and Em helped out there at times by cooking, cleaning, and serving tables. As the twenties gave way to the hardship of the Great Depression, Em and her sister learned to be content in whatever life brought, finding joy in life’s simple pleasures.
Even as a young girl Emmy’s life was an active one. She enjoyed playing baseball, rollerskating, playing around with her dogs, and singing with her friends, Mando and Rudy Magnarini. Em’s love for music began with accordion lessons, which led her and her sister to start a group called the June Belles. She also developed a love for drawing during her formative years that remained with her throughout her life. Em always loved to paint, attend art shows, and decorate her house. She also became friends with a few people who were part of the art scene at Cardinal Stritch University, Sister Thomasita and the Trybas.
As a student Em attended local schools. She was part of the first class to graduate from Pulaski High School in 1939, and she then took classes at Milwaukee Business Academy. While there she learned superb skills in typing and stenography, which prompted her to open her own business, Accurate Office Service. It was nearly unheard of for a woman to open a business during the 1940s, and she also fulfilled a unique need as her business became a prototype for office outsourcing.
Emmy was a member of the Polish cultural group called Polanki, and it was there that she met the man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Stan Sajdak, and they met at a luncheon and at a dance later on the very same day. The couple quickly began dating and was married on October 16, 1948, at St. Josephat’s Basilica. Together they were blessed with two children: James and Suzanne.
One of the things that made Em and Stan such a great match is that they were both successful in the business world. She sold her business in the 1950s, and she became an integral part of her husband’s business, Sajdak Shoe Store, which together they moved to a larger location in “the suburbs” and renamed Stan’s Bootery. The business flourished in part due to Em’s savvy business sense, good instincts, and fantastic people skills. With the sale of her own business she was able to devote more time to Stan’s business, and she was greatly responsible for the business’s growth through the years. Em also handled the office work, shoe buying, cashiering, and direct mail. In more recent years the business, now called Stan’s Fit Your Feet, has continued to expand to three locations including one in Brookfield, Greenfield, and Glendale in addition to two New Balance athletic shoe stores. It continues to be a family affair with their son, Jim, at the helm and all four of his children employed there as well.
Throughout her life Em’s journey was enriched in so many ways. Her unwavering faith was always a cornerstone, and she was a prayer warrior who firmly believed in the power of prayer. Emmy covered all of her loved ones in prayer daily, and also shared her faith through the generosity she showed as a sponsor of many missionaries, seminarians, and nuns. At one time she took dance lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, and she loved dancing throughout her life despite her many knee surgeries and illnesses. Emmy and Stan loved traveling all over the United States and throughout much of the world. They took several vacations to visit their friends in California, Bernice and Earle Adams, but Em’s favorite vacation destination was Door County. The holidays were always a special time of year to her as they were filled with plenty of opportunities to decorate her house, cook, and entertain. Emmy was blessed with the gift of hospitality and was a gracious hostess whose thoughtfulness provides us all with much to aspire for.
All who knew Emerence Sajdak would agree that she was an extraordinary woman in so many ways. She was a visionary with just the right amount of dreamer mixed in that led to a successful family business that is well known in the community she loved. Emmy experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. A devoted mother and doting grandmother, she treasured her family more than anything on this side of heaven, and her vibrant faith serves as an inspiration to all within her reach. The memories she leaves behind will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of her numerous friends and loved ones.
Emerence Lucille Sajdak died on August 17, 2012. Emmy’s family includes her children, James (Susan) Sajdak and Suzanne (Gregory) Sakwinski; grandchildren, Andrew (Natalie), David, Megan, Benjamin (Paula) and Crystalyn (Zachary) Leonard; sister, Adell (the late Gordon) Murphy; sister-in-law, Eleanor (the late Joseph) Murphy; brother-in-law, Michael (Josephine) Sajdak; and nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends. Emmy was preceded in death by her husband, Stanley J. Sajdak. Visit with Em’s family and friends on Wednesday, August 22 from 4:30 p.m. until the beginning of the Liturgy of Resurrection at 6:45 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church 3722 So. 58th Street, Milwaukee (So. 58th and W. Forest Home Ave.). Private entombment at Mount Olivet Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to Milwaukee Catholic Home or the Fine Arts Departments of Pius XI or Marquette University High School. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory.
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