Donation from Niccole Kunshek in Memory of her Grandmother, Lottie Rymarz
Lottie Mary Rymarz, passed away at home at the age of 91 on June 24, 2014, In Chicao Heights Illinois. She was born in Poland on July 25, 1922, to parents Josef and Paulina Krawiec. Lottie was known by many as Busi (pronounced Boo-she). She grew up on a small Polish farm in the town of Nizatyce with her brother, Michael, and sister, Sophie. Farm life developed her appreciation for cooking, gardening and love of animals, especially horses. In Poland, Lottie survived the terror of World War II. In 1949 at the age of 27, Lottie immigrated to the United States to join her husband in Chicago Heights. She made the ocean trip with just one suit case and the memory of her horses. Unusual to today’s world, she made her journey without knowing how to speak Engish, having access to the internet, or even having a cell phone!
Even though Busi never won an award or a trophy, she accomplished much and set a high bar for achievement for her family. She wasn’t afraid of hard work. This petite 5’ 4” mother of four worked the night shift in a hot and dangerous steel mill in her new country. She was slight in stature but a giant when it came to energy and drive; laziness was not a part of her being.
Busi missed Poland and never forgot her Polish language, heritage, traditions, or her horses. She would speak often about her bond with her horses. She would tell stories of her favorite horse, Cerka (Polish for Little Black Horse), coming up to the window of the farm kitchen and “knocking” on the house with her hoof. Busi would open the window and feed Cerka a few cubes of sugar or a carrot. When Busi would go outside, Cerka would come up to her and put her front hooves on her shoulders, as if giving her a horse hug. Her parents were strict, but Busi really loved Cerka and some how found a way to sneak out of the house at night to go to the stable to brush her. When her family eventually had to sell Cerka, Busi’s heart was broken. Some time later, Busi convinced her father to let her visit Cerka at the neighbor’ farm. Cerka came running up to see Busi as soon as Busi called her name. It seems the mare was very attached to Busi because Cerka later ran away from her new owners to return to Busi’s family farm where she found Busi and was briefly reunited with her.
Busi was also a proud American and appreciated her new country more than most after living under the boot heel of fascism and communism. One often repeated horse story was when one night the German soliders arrived at her family’s farm during World War II to to take away their horses. The entire family was in fear, but Busi would rather have been killed by the Germans then to give up the mare and her colt that the soldiers were demanding. Her family told her to settle down, saying that the family had no choice to comply or someone surely would be injured or killed. It did little to calm the fiery Busi, who instead grabbed the keys to the stable out of the hands of a family member, marched to the front door and told the German soliders she was not going to say no to letting them take the horses, but she wasn’t going to help them, either. Then she threw the keys to the stable as far as she could into the snow as the astonished Germans looked on in shock.
Busi returned to Poland 50 years later to visit her family. When Busi approached the family farm, her mother did not recognize her or her voice. Before she returned to the United States, Busi convinced her father to take her over the the neighbor’s farm where Cerka lived. Both Busi and Cerka were old ladies by then, but, to Busi, Cerka was family and she had come home to see all of her family, including Cerka. Busi was talking with the neighbor as he led her into the barn. Unlike her own mother, Cerka immediately recognized Busi’s voice and became agitated in her stall. Cerka calmed down only after she had been let out of the stall to reunite with Busi!
Although she never won an award, Busi’s achievements were measured by the smiles of her family when they would gather at her home for a carefully prepared Polish holiday meal. Her family would listen as she sat at the head of the table telling tales of the farm in Poland and her beloved horses. No doubt Cerka was one of the first to greet her in heaven, reuniting them for a final time!
Lottie is survived by her daughter, Barbara and husband, Rudy Kunshek/Valparaiso, IN; son, Tom and wife, Patti of Bartlett, IL; and daughter, Elizabeth and husband, Micky DeBonfioli/Chicago Heights, IL. Lottie was a loving grandmother to Niccole Kunshek, Jeff Kunshek, Todd Kunshek, Phil Rymarz, Jill Rymarz, Danielle Sparacino; and great-grandson, Henry Rymarz. She was preceded in death by husband, Stanley; son, Stasiu; and grandson, Michael DeBonfioli.
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What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing!