January 22, 1928-October 4, 2020
Josephine (Jozefa) Zajkowski of Harrison, New Jersey, entered into her eternal rest on Sunday, October 4, 2020 at her home in Harrison after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 92 years old.
Josephine was born January 22, 1928 in Targonie-Wity in rural Poland, one of a set of twins, and she married Bronislaw in 1951. They lost their first child, a daughter, at eight months. They had two sons and another daughter while living in Poland and were able to immigrate to the United States in 1960. They settled in Harrison, where her eldest brother Piotr lived. They expanded their family with another son, became naturalized American Citizens in 1970, and lived in Harrison for the rest of their lives.
A devoted wife and mother, Josephine was a masterful baker, pierogi-maker, knitter, crocheter and seamstress. She was unparalleled as a bargain hunter, compiling and sending countless care packages to the brothers and sisters she left behind in Poland. Her kitchen was frequently perfumed with the delicious aroma of babka, paczki and chrusciki, and she loved engaging neighborhood children, and later her grandchildren, in her baking rituals. She also loved sharing her baked goods with her neighbors, whose friendships she cherished.
Once her youngest son was in school, she began a part-time job in the catering operation of the Prudential in Newark. She loved her work, and the opportunity to serve the “big shots” when working in the executive dining room. Unfortunately, her working career was ended prematurely by a disabling accident when she was struck by a car as a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
She was actively involved in her church, Our Lady of Czestochowa in Harrison, as a member of the Rosary Altar Society. She had uncanny luck at the slot machines in Atlantic City, and she enjoyed trips to Toronto to visit her niece, the daughter of her youngest brother. She served as a substitute mom to two nephews who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and she loved their families as her own.
One of the highlights of her life was a visit to the Holy Land with members of her church. Riding a camel might have been the high point until a scheduling glitch resulted in a private audience for her small group with Pope John Paul II. She had the opportunity to meet the first non-Italian Pope and speak to him in his (and her) native language of Polish and kiss his ring.
Josephine adored her grandchildren and her first great-grandson, who arrived on the scene before Alzheimer’s had stolen her memory. She was always a willing babysitter, frequently reminding her children that being a “Babcia” was a much more rewarding gig than parenthood. She was always up for a road trip to visit her children and grandchildren when they lived in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia and Illinois.
She is predeceased by her beloved husband of 68 years, Bronislaw; her brothers Piotr, Waclaw, Vincenty, Edmund and Antoni; her sisters Honorata, Kamila, Franciszka, and her twin sister Janina; and her beloved niece-in-law Kamila Zajkowski.
Josephine is survived by her loving children John (Rosa), Joseph (Elaine), Alice Andors (Louis) and Stanley (Suzanne). She was a beloved “Babcia” to six grandchildren (Andrew and Kristofer Zajkowski, Stephanie Ben M’hidi, James and Logan Andors, and Katie Zajkowski) and four great-grandchildren (Jason Ben M’hidi, and Tommy, Jackson and Maisy Andors); and “Ciocia” to great-nieces Cynthia and Kamila Zajkowski and Victoria Kulikowski as well as nieces and nephews in Connecticut, New Jersey, Texas, Alabama, Toronto and Poland.