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Bucktown Fixture, WW II Labor Camp Survivor, Dies

By Alisa Hauser | July 7, 2013 9:47am
 Marcella Juszynski, 90, moved to Bucktown in 1954 and died peacefully on her front porch Saturday.
Marcella Juszynski, 90
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BUCKTOWN —  A constant face in a changing neighborhood who was known to approach young professionals in the streets and advise them, "Don't get old!" has died.

Marcella Juszynski, 90, passed away Saturday on the front porch of the Bucktown home where she'd lived in since 1954, said granddaughter Kim Juszynski.

Known for walking around the area, Marcella Juszynski was a familiar presence and attracted the attention of local police officers who watched out for her, as well as curiosity from neighbors who witnessed Juszynski getting in her daily exercise, sometimes while holding plastic trash bags as weights.

The somewhat eccentric behavior, which sometimes included feeding pigeons and even taking one she called "Sweetie" into her home to nurse him back to health, was traced back to a childhood in Europe that was cut short by World War II.

Born Oct. 30, 1922, in Dubno, Poland, Juszynski, the daughter of a forestry worker, had survived a Russian labor camp and experieced the death of her father and brother before coming to the United States with her husband and mother.

Juszynski worked for 31 years at a YMCA hotel on a lot soon to become an 11-story apartment building at 1611 W. Division St. Her husband worked at a steel foundry at Clybourn and North.

Juszynski also served as a resource for friends and neighbors, and in recent years had taken in a widowed neighbor, Danuta, who lived with her until she died about six months ago.

In November, Tony Juszynski told DNAinfo Chicago that his mother would help new Poles get settled in the city.

“When [Bucktown] used to be all Polish, she worked all the time, always doing so much for everyone else,” said her son Tony Juszynski, 68, of Belmont-Cragin. “People, they came from Poland and I don't know how, but they would all find her, and she would take them to the embassy to get their papers straightened out.”

In October, Chicago Police Department officer David Uting, who often saw Juszynski strolling through the neighborhood, said, "She is the original fabric of Bucktown and represents what Bucktown once was. There aren’t many people like her left here."

Kim Juszynski said the police department received a call from an anonymous person who saw her grandmother motionless on her front porch early Saturday.

Kim Juszynski, who lives just up the street, had just walked with her grandmother Friday and said she "seemed fine, like her normal self."

Juszynski's boyfriend, Max Rose, had been holding Marcella Juszynski's hand while they were walking, which prompted Kim Juszynski to snap a photo.

"I've walked with her so many times and never took a picture. I'm so happy I took that picture," she said.

"She was my best friend, she was wonderful," Juszynski said of her grandmother, with whom she was extremely close. The two often checked in with each other multiple times daily and chatted on the phone into evening hours when they were both suffered from insomnia, Marcella Juszynski told a reporter in the fall.

In addition to her son and granddaughter, Marcella Juszynski leaves behind two daughters, Kathy and Chris; a daughter-in-law, Marcia; six other grandchildren, Diane, Greg, Ron, Helen, Christine, and Danine; five great-grandchildren; and many friends and neighbors.

Visitation will be held 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, and funeral services will be at 9:15 a.m. Thursday at Muzyka Funeral Home, 2157 W. Chicago Ave.

After the funeral services, a procession will travel to St. Mary of the Angels Church at 1850 N. Hermitrage Ave. forMmass, followed by a luncheon at White Eagle banquets, 6839 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Niles. 

Burial will be at St. Adalbert Cemetary, 6800 N. Milwaukee Ave.