It was easy to love and admire everything about Evelyn. With childlike faith, she was just a kid at heart who loved unconditionally and with all her might. A devoted wife, loving and dedicated mother and grandmother, Evelyn would stop at nothing for the sake of her family. A treasure to behold, she will remain dearly loved and deeply missed.
Raised in a close knit Polish community on Milwaukee’s east side, Evelyn was the sixth of eventually twelve children born to Stephan and Anna (Dembeck) Pietras. It was a special time in the U.S. and her birth on June 29, 1924 only added to the blessings of the day. An air of excitement filled communities far and wide as the infamous Roaring Twenties introduced a social atmosphere never before seen, while prosperity and good fortune made daily headlines.
The Pietras family made their home in their Milwaukee, Wisconsin neighborhood at 1853 N. Humboldt Avenue. With such a large family, they had little but lived contently all the same, devout in their Catholic faith. A bustling household of activity, Evelyn shared everything with her siblings, Edmund, Sophie, Angeline, Jean, Dolores, Raymond, Leonard, Stephen, and Chester. She had a sister, Julie, but she sadly died at the age of seven, and another sibling was stillborn.
Several years following Evelyn’s birth, life changed dramatically with the onset of the Great Depression. It was already typically a struggle providing for the needs of their large family, but these hard times spiraled for her poor family during the Depression. Radish sandwiches and lard sandwiches and soup were a mainstay at mealtime. Baked apples were a treat. In fact, Evelyn never even had the opportunity to eat turkey until she was a newlywed with her husband’s family at Christmas.
Evelyn was 11 years old when her mother died at the age of 43. It proved to be a hard time for their close family, but they managed. She was extremely proud of her father and admired him for raising her and her siblings on his own after her mother’s death. Even though their parish priest advised him to send the children to an orphanage, her father was all the more determined to keep his family together. Indeed he did, and no matter the circumstances, they were always together. Evelyn attended St. Hedwig Grade School and went on to Lincoln High School through the 11th grade when her help was needed at home. She was dedicated to her family and fulfilled an integral role in the lives of her younger siblings.
On July 19 1947, life as Evelyn knew it was forever changed when she was introduced to a handsome fellow named Arthur Murawski. They were introduced at a dance at a tavern on 13th and Lincoln by “Gibbers” a former grade school classmate of Evelyn’s sister Angie; “Gibbers” also happened to be Art’s brother-in-law. She liked his tall stature while he wanted to know, “why such a good looking broad like her wasn’t married yet?”. Quite smitten, they began dating and the following spring they sealed their love in marriage on April 14, 1948 at St. Hedwig Catholic Church.
Like many young couples, it was tough starting out. They lived with Art’s parents on the south side for 9 months. Art worked at Pittsburgh Paint and Glass, and Evelyn looked after the house. Her brother Eddie found a flat for them on Warren Ave. They moved to 1838 N. Humboldt Ave. a few years later where they resided for 31 years before moving to the south side to an upper flat on Chase Avenue in 1983.
Evelyn and Art were eager to begin a family of their own. Unfortunately, Evelyn miscarried. Evelyn was given “pills and injections” to even become pregnant again and was put on bed rest to sustain the pregnancy. They were greatly blessed, however, when they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Nadine in 1951. Evelyn loved children, especially babies. She was a fantastic mother and put Nadine’s needs and desires before her own. She told her daughter as an adult later in life, “I would wear holey shoes in order to afford to buy you something.” When it came to giving, Evelyn cared for others as well. Her daughter recalls how tough times came their way when her father’s hours were cut at work, but because a neighbor lady was worse off, Evelyn hired her to do ironing.
In all she did, Evelyn reveled as a homemaker and mother. She made a good home for Art and Nadine, and was involved at her parish, the church school and as a member of Christian Mothers. She solicited funds for the Notre Dame Motherhouse in Elm Grove. Throughout the years Evelyn loved sharing stories from her youth and was a great historian of sorts as she loved talking about days gone by. A positive light in the lives of many, she was at the ready with comforting words when someone was in need. An encouraging force, she always gave the assurance that everything was going to be alright. Auntie Lyn was loved by all.
There were many things that Evelyn enjoyed. She loved to dance, and Art would, but only after he “had a few” although he had taken lessons and was an excellent dancer. As Evelyn coaxed him to the dance floor, Art would say, “Come on, Ettica, let’s go struggle!”. She liked playing poker, and the cards came in handy teaching Nadine how to count. However, when Nadine was in kindergarten, Evelyn had to explain to the nun exactly how she taught her daughter to count, because little Nadine counted according to the cards, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K! She taught her grandchildren to count the very same way.
Evelyn loved and spoiled her four grandchildren at every opportunity. She did fun things with them and when they had sleepovers, Dzia Dzia slept on the couch while they snuggled in the bed. A proud Polish woman, she especially loved telling them about their heritage, and how they were 100% Polish, even though she knew their father was German. It was always enjoyable attending their sporting events and concerts, and to her, they were simply the best. She made herself readily available to baby-sit, and was a tremendous help when Nadine was completing her nursing degree. When Nadine had surgery to remove a brain tumor in the summer of 2003, she recovered in the comfort of her parent’s home. And even though she was a grown adult and Evelyn was 79 at the time, there was nothing Evelyn wouldn’t do for her daughter.
Selfless, generous and funny, Evelyn had the innocence of a kid who never quite grew up. Her positive attitude believed all things worked out and she always saw the best in people. With her outgoing personality, “she could talk to the devil himself” and no matter where she went, it seemed she always knew somebody.
Evelyn enjoyed good health but was always concerned for others, especially when her beloved “Archie” was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. When she began losing weight and put off going to the doctor, a trip to the hospital on May 25th found her digestive system had shut down. Returning home on May 31, 2011, she was taken back to the hospital on June 1 where she died in the emergency room. Even then, Evelyn put everyone at ease, because everything was going to be okay.
For 63 years, Evelyn Murawski was the beloved wife of Arthur S. Murawski; cherished mother of Nadine (Thomas) Flemming; loving grandma of Devon, Denna, Creston, and Darla; dear sister to Stephen (Doris) Pietras, and further survived by other relatives and friends. Visitation: Friday, June 10, 2011 at Suminski Life Story Funeral Home- Niemann/Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue (414) 744-5156 from 4-7 PM with a prayer service at 7:00 PM. Funeral Mass: 10:00 AM Saturday, June 11, 2011 at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 5960 W. Loomis Road. Please meet at the church. Entombment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. To leave a favorite memory of Evelyn or to sign her online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.