Helen Therese Januszyk, 100, died peacefully on January 16, 2018. Auntie Helen, the daughter of Frank Januszyk and Katherine Drabek was born November 18, 1917 in Detroit, Michigan. She was one of seven children and was raised on a farm in Malotolska, Poland. She returned to the United States in the mid-1930s and began her long career as a seamstress.
Auntie Helen started out working at a garment shop in downtown Chicago. As her skills developed she moved on to bridal shops where she became an expert seamstress. More brides than you could count were thankful to her for making their gowns perfect. She finished her formal career at a shop in Palos Hills but she never put down her needle and thread. Auntie Helen was still doing alterations when she was in her 80s & 90s.
Her love and commitment to her craft extended to all the needlework that she did for her family. Nieces and great nieces delighted in special holiday dresses, exquisite flower girl dresses, and one of a kind First Communion dresses. Auntie Helen always had her needle handy and could be counted on to let down a hem, fix a zipper, or shorten a sleeve. Whenever we needed her she was there.
Sewing wasn’t Auntie Helen’s only skill, she also loved to crochet. New brides were graced with beautiful afghans and new babies with delicate blankets. And there were always her crocheted dish towels! Our kitchens were not complete (or so thought Auntie Helen) without one, or two, or at least three.
And then there was her cooking. Christmas Eve was the special time when we were treated to her Mushroom Soup (with Polish mushrooms, of course), trays of her Chrusciki, and of course pierogi – cheese and ‘awesome’ sauerkraut with a peppery taste to it. We were delighted when Auntie Helen entered the kitchen because we knew we were in for something special.
Auntie Helen’s home was always overflowing with plants and flowers. She could make anything grow. Her plants were shiny and robust, and seemed to reach for the ceiling. If anyone had a sickly plant they knew Auntie Helen would not only revive it, she would make it flourish. She didn’t just have a green thumb, both hands must have been green to get the results that she did.
She enjoyed life and liked to travel. Auntie Helen often took along a nephew, great niece, or great nephew. If she thought something might be interesting, off you went to investigate. She was always excited to see something new. Traveling with Auntie Helen was definitely an experience.
Auntie Helen is survived by her nephews Don (wife Rosemary), Rich (wife Rita), Ken (wife Paula) Dan (wife Michele) and niece Karyn – in addition to fourteen great nieces and nephews, and thirteen great-great nieces and nephews. Auntie Helen was predeceased by her sisters and brothers, including her special brother Frank.
Auntie Helen was one of a kind and we will miss her.
Visitation Saturday 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. from the funeral home to Sacred Heart Church for 10:00 a.m. Mass. Interment Mt. Greenwood Cemetery.