Life held many blessings for Evelyn Suminski. In as much as she gave, she was well loved and cherished in the hearts of many. A woman of faith, her example radiated from her unending love of God and others. Truly devoted, she supported her family in each of their endeavors. Her kindness and commitment was unmatched and although strong-willed, her tireless and selfless nature was a remarkable gift. A blessing in the lives of those she leaves behind, she will be long remembered and sadly missed.
One of the most explosive decades of the century, the Roaring Twenties brought great change to America. The nation’s can-do spirit was reflected in Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the ocean, Henry Ford’s mass production of the automobile, and the Suffrage Movement that won women the right to vote. During an era when jazz music blossomed and the flapper was redefining modern womanhood, it was an especially exciting time in the lives of Harry and Frances (Ketterhagen) Terry when on September 22, 1923, in Brighton, Wisconsin; they welcomed the blessing of identical twin daughters, Evelyn Amelia and Catherine Mary into their hearts.
Although Evelyn’s twin sister, Catherine “Kay” was older by mere minutes, they remained inseparable in life. Raised on their family’s ‘century farm’ in Kenosha County, her father was of French descent and her mother was of German descent. Evelyn and Kay grew up with their siblings, Jerome “Jerry”, Bernard “Bernie”, John, and Virginia “Gin”. As a close family everyone pitched in to help with farm and household chores. Very self-sufficient, they grew their own food, made their own soap; they worked together and played together.
As the depression set in, life became extra difficult but the Terry’s always seemed to have a helping hand or two for others when need arose. Evelyn carried on this formidable trait throughout her entire life. She and her family attended St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and she received her schooling at the church’s one room school house. When their mother became ill, the girls left high school because they were needed at home.
Sports played a big part in Evelyn and Kay’s lives, with no doubt baseball in all forms being at the top of the list. They were very competitive, partly because their brothers never took it easy on them just because they were girls. In 1943 they ‘moved to the big city’… Milwaukee, and found a place to live on the east side. Both began working for International Harvester doing piece work, much like ‘Rosie the Riveter’. They played on the Harvester’s fast pitch softball women’s team, where Evelyn was a star pitcher and Kay was her catcher. The star duo combination quickly became known as ‘The Terrible Terry’s’. Their shared love of sports and competitive nature resulted in an invitation to try out for the professional women’s league. Although Evelyn made the team, she turned the opportunity down because Kay injured her thumb and couldn’t participate. Throughout her life, whether bowling, playing cards, board games or Scrabble, Evelyn was a fierce and passionate competitor…truly ‘in a league of her own’.
It was early 1947 when Evelyn met a handsome young gentleman named Edward Suminski who came along and stole her heart. As the story goes, Edward actually first met Kay one night at a bowling alley and asked: “Are there any more at home like you?” Little did he know she had an identical twin. Both were formally introduced one Sunday morning after mass while sitting at the soda fountain of Schowalter’s Drugstore. That was the beginning of a romance that continued to grow over 53 years. They were happily married on May 1, 1948 in Evelyn’s home town church back in Brighton… St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. They celebrated that sunny day at the Terry farm with breakfast, accordion music and lots of dancing in the middle of the rural country road. The celebration continued with a second gala reception in Milwaukee that evening at the Federal Club. Ed and Evelyn spent their honeymoon driving to California along Route 66, and as the story continues, their twin daughters Pat and Pam were conceived! As a second generation funeral director, Edward operated the business his father established on Milwaukee’s east side in the early 1900s. Evelyn was very supportive and made a good home for them above the family funeral home on Brady Street. Blessed with the birth of twin daughters, Patricia and Pamela in 1949, their family grew again by two when twin sons, Robert and Ronald arrived in 1950. With two sets of twins sixteen months apart their family made local headlines as twins were quite prevalent in Evelyn’s family. Her mother had two sets of twins and as time passed her twin sister, Kay, had a set of twins as well. In fact, one of Evelyn’s sons and wife were blessed with a set of twins themselves. The blessings continued for Ed and Evelyn with the birth of their son, Edward in 1954, daughter Margaret “Peggy” in 1955 and son, Richard in 1958.
With a husband and seven children to tend to, Evelyn’s earlier years working on the farm really paid off. She was a tireless worker and along with keeping house and raising the children, she was in constant motion from the time she awoke until after her children were asleep. One of her greatest joys was being a mother. She steadfastly stood behind all her children, helped them with homework, and supported them in their many activities. She came to support her grandchildren just the same. As a creative cook, she put together wonderful meals for her large family and would not sit down until everyone had been served. This was simply one of the many ways she demonstrated her love. Indeed a beautiful example of God’s love, Evelyn’s compassion and love of others was remarkable. Her faith shone bright as she instilled a love for God and others into her children. She enjoyed helping others and had a special place in her heart for children.
Never one to sit idle, Evelyn thrived on keeping busy. For many years she served as a volunteer at St. Hedwig Church, cleaning, meticulously ironing vestments and alter cloths, counting money, working at rummage sales, and festival booths. She baked dozens of cookies and paczkis (a Polish pastry) for church bake sales, and became particularly known for her lemon bars. She liked to help with the Brady Street Area Association activities preparing newsletters and helping at events. She was also particularly proud to be a life member of the American Legion Auxiliary. If that wasn’t enough, she would often resort to sweeping/shoveling the side walk, or organizing the basement or attic at the Brady Street homestead as well as at her children’s homes upon her visiting them!
Evelyn welcomed opportunities for travel and along with family, she traveled twice to Europe in addition to various places in the nation from New York to Hawaii. Her travels most often found her in California visiting family. A loyal and trustworthy friend, she was like a second mother to some and was a good shoulder to cry on. When she firmly believed in something she could be very determined and stubborn, but it was only for the good. In all her ways, Evelyn demonstrated two of God’s greatest commandments, loving God and loving others. She remained quite competitive and liked to win. Evelyn not only won through competition, but won in life with the love of family and friends.
When her beloved Edward died in 2001 Evelyn continued to live in their Brady Street home. Life continued changing for her and her family when she began experiencing progressive memory loss. She was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2005 but with the help and support of her children she was able to continue living in the comforts of her home and surprising everyone with her adaptive sense of humor! Facing challenges again in 2008 while recovering from meningitis, she lived for a while at the Milwaukee Catholic Home before returning home to Brady Street. Unfortunately, an unforeseen medical problem led to her emergent admittance to Columbia/St. Mary’s Hospital on May 3, 2011 and subsequently, at the age of 87, Evelyn peacefully died on Friday, May 13, 2011 surrounded by her loving family.
Along with her husband, she was preceded in death by parents Harry and Frances Terry, brother, Jerome (Dorothy) Terry, and twin sister, Catherine (Ted) Jaworski. She was a cherished “Mom” to Patricia Suminski, Pamela (John) Budzinski, Robert (Debra Bloom-Tase) Suminski, Ronald (Mary) Suminski, Edward (Marsha) Suminski, Margaret (Russell) Stroika, Richard (Marilyn Leifer) Suminski; loving grandmother of: Sara (Max) Ekesi, Shannon (Darrell) Taft, Kate (Matt) Schmidt, Ann Marie (Mike) Kirtley, Aaron (April) Suminski, Jannee’ (Reid) Shipley, Maggie Suminski, Jaclyn (Dan) Tubbin, Chad, Timothy, Naomi, Samuel and Benjamin Suminski; dear sister of Bernard (Vida), John (Dolores), and Virginia (Robert) Jazdzewski; fond sister-in-law of Celia Suminski; further survived by four great-granddaughters, five great-grandsons, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Visitation: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at Suminski Life Story Funeral Home, 4-7 PM with a Prayer Service at 7:00 PM. Mass of Christian Burial: 10:00 AM, Thursday May 19, 2011 at Three Holy Women Parish-St Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Ave. (MEET AT CHURCH). Private Interment at the Southern Wisconsin Veteran Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin. If desired, memorials to Three Holy Women Legacy Fund appreciated. Suminski Life Story Funeral Homes, Suminski Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Avenue 414-276-5122. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a favorite memory or photo of Evelyn or to sign her online guest book.