Like the delicate shades of pink that Wanda Davidowski admired, so too was Wanda, and every bit the lady. With strong Polish roots, Wanda’s life was surrounded by the love of family who together worked side-by-side. Unconditional in her own love, her family brought her the greatest joy. She lived a full life with contentment in her heart and blessed for all she had been given. Although she is now rejoined with those who have gone before her, Wanda will remain a treasure in the hearts of those she leaves behind.
Born on March 5, 1918, Wanda was a welcome blessing in the lives of her parents, John and Susan (Bednarski) Windorski. Hard working farmers, they farmed the land of their Polish immigrant families who settled in the Township of Sharon of Portage County, Wisconsin. It was a significant time in our nation’s history, and the end of World War I was a welcome relief for many, but cause for great concern was the Spanish flu which reached epidemic proportions. Raised in the close knit Polish farming community of Sharon, their Polish ancestry remained close to their hearts.
The fourth of eventually thirteen children in the bustling Windorski household, Wanda had eight brothers which included Ted, Ben, Daniel, Hubert, Clarence, Philip, Raymond and David. She usually shared a room with at least one of her four sisters, Emma, Florence, Sadie and Dorothy. Although growing up on the farm was hard work, it was often fun-filled with adventure, too. Her responsibilities often included cooking, canning and baking for their large family, but her sisters, Sweetie and Emma, usually worked inside. Wanda worked the fields with the large draft horses, and always feared being stepped on. She milked the cows and early on came to dislike milk, especially after drinking the warm milk from the very cows she had just worked on.
In her later years Wanda often reminisced about life growing up on the farm and how fun it was to go to the lake after a long day of chores. She received her grade school education, but like many during this era, and with the hardships of the Great Depression, Wanda’s help was needed at home on the farm. During her teens she began working in Mr. and Mrs. Essig’s store. One day while minding the store a large crowd came in and she proceeded to serve beer from the beer bar in the store. What a surprise for the owners when they returned to find their cash drawer full after Wanda’s full day of business!
As a young woman Wanda loved attending the local dances in town with her sisters and it came to also be the place where she met the love of her life. Although she was dating a young man with quite a fancy car, it wasn’t enough to prevent Leo Davidowski from stealing Wanda’s heart. After falling deeply in love, Wanda and Leo were happily married with typical Polish tradition on June 8, 1940. Their celebration was held on her family’s farm where preparations began days earlier. Chickens and ducks were slaughtered, the barn was cleaned out and the band was ready to sing. A Polish cook was hired and stayed from Wednesday through Saturday baking all the cookies, cakes, pies and bread for the festivities.
Wanda and Leo lived on their farm and soon began a family of their own. They were blessed with eventually eight children, but Joseph, their first child, sadly died at birth. Joan, Robert, Leon, Judith, James, Sharon, and Harold filled their lives with joy and family remained their priority. With hope for a better life, Leo left farming and moved his family to Milwaukee. He went to work as a hammer man at the Unit Drop Forge Company while Wanda diligently raised their children with the help of her older children. Wanda could not have been happier when they purchased their first home in May of 1963 at 1870 North Pulaski Street. Their home was lovingly filled with children and later, the love of grandchildren. Wanda’s love for family was beyond compare, even though, like many Polish women, she was known to get a little exasperated now and then, often using the phrase, “Oh yenni!”.
Always a wonderful cook and baker, Wanda’s homemade bread and rolls were baked to perfection every time where she felt at home in her kitchen. Leo was a master tinker and could creatively fix most anything. He adored Wanda and she in turn loved her Leo. They enjoyed the simple things in life and what really mattered involved spending time with their family. With faith as their guide, they together set a wonderful example for their children to live by. They were devout members of St. Hedwig Catholic Church from the time they arrived in Milwaukee and gratefully counted their faith as the key to their many blessings.
Family vacations were enjoyed up north to Wausau visiting family and friends. Along with her sisters, Wanda made several trips out west to visit their brothers where memorable times were shared. Christmas was always a special time in their small home and as her family grew, it simply became cozier, just the way she loved it. Everyone felt special at Nana’s where birthdays rarely went unnoticed!
Wanda faced many challenges in life but none was greater than when she lost “her beloved Leo” quite suddenly on October 6, 1971. Wanda continued to live in their home on Pulaski Street surrounded by the love and support of family. When she experienced the unexpected death of her wonderful daughter and caregiver, Sharon in 2008, Wanda moved to the Jewish Home and Care Center for which her family is so grateful. At the age of 93, Wanda experienced her greatest reward on Saturday, April 9, 2011 when she gracefully went into the arms of her Lord with “her Leo”, Joseph and Sharon waiting to warmly embrace and welcome her.
Ever faithful and loving, Wanda lived a life of contentment surrounded by those she cherished. Together she and Leo lived the qualities that made their love of family and for one another unconditional. A true lady in every respect, Wanda will be deeply missed and fondly remembered in the hearts of many.
Along with her beloved husband and firstborn son, Wanda was preceded in death by her brothers: Ted, Ben, Hubert, Clarence, Daniel; and sister, Florence. She was the cherished mother of Joan (Richard) Kegel, Robert (Mary Ann), Leon, Judith (John) Bydynkowski, James (JoAnn), the late Sharon (Eugene) Pogorzelski and Harold (Roxanne) Davidowski; dear sister of Emma Brzezinski, Phillip Windorski, Sadie Gruna, Dorothy Nowitzke, Raymond (Rose) Windorski, David (Janet) Windorski; 14 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; other relatives and friends.
Visitation: Friday, April 15, 2011 at Three Holy Women Parish–St. Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Avenue from 10:00 AM until the Funeral Mass at 12:00 PM. Interment to take place at Holy Cross Cemetery, Saturday, April 16, 2011, 9:00 AM.
Suminski Life Story Funeral Homes-Suminski/Weiss (414) 276-5122. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a favorite memory or photo of Wanda or to sign her online guest book.