Marie Senkowsky (née Maria Staszko), a longtime resident of Van Etten, NY, who grew up in Philadelphia, PA, died at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital late the evening of Tuesday, October 26, 2021. She was 79.
Having endured a life of many ailments--including childhood rheumatic fever, breast cancer (twice), and a nearly deadly bout with septic shock in 2015--Marie was a determined survivor who treasured and valued every new day.
Born in Machniw, Ukraine, she was the daughter of the late Ivan and Tekla (Kosopud) Staszko. Her family (including brother, Roman, who predeceased her in 2015) entered the U.S. in 1949 as World War II refugees and “displaced persons.” She often liked to tell the story of how her parents managed to reunite, despite her father having been seized twice as a German slave laborer. Her father befriended the children of his overseers to secure travel papers; this allowed her mother to leave Ukraine “just as borders were closing.”
She entered the U.S. via Boston, in August 1949, after which her family traveled to Lynchburg, VA, as farm laborers, where they endured some lean times. In February 1950, the family moved to Camden, NJ, and later to Philadelphia, where she attended Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls. She was also briefly a telephone operator for General Electric. In July 1964, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In January 1966, she married childhood sweetheart Andrew, devoting herself to supporting his career as a dentist in the U.S. Air Force and beyond. Then, despite being told that a pregnancy could endanger her life due to heart damage from rheumatic fever, she chose to be a mother. In 1969, she gave birth to their only child, Sonya. For the rest of her life, she was her daughter’s biggest fan, best friend and supporter. To her daughter, she passed down her love of her Ukrainian heritage (including cooking), her good humor and her enjoyment of reading and language. She was also pleased to share her mother’s knowledge of Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky) with both her husband and daughter.
After family plans changed, she changed gears from stay-at-home mom to become her husband’s dental assistant and office manager. For more than 25 years, she was known as the friendly front-desk manager at Dr. Senkowsky’s dental offices, located first in Spencer, and then at their home office in Van Etten, NY.
Sociable to a fault, Marie always took a genuine interest in other people’s lives, making new friends wherever she went with her lighthearted and positive personality. In her most physically active years, she enjoyed gardening, skiing (both downhill and cross-country) and going camping, fishing and swimming with family, including treasured trips to the Thousand Islands area. For a few years, she also enjoyed the companionship of a dog named Sweetie.
She is survived by her husband, Andrew M. Senkowsky, of Van Etten; daughter Sonya Senkowsky (Christopher Floyd), of Anchorage, AK; younger sister, Anna Staszko, of Philadelphia; sister-in-law Therese Staszko, of Ephrata, PA; nieces Maria Pearsall (Phil), of Magnolia, NJ, and Helen Dwyer (Tim), of Ephrata, PA; nephews Frank Staszko, of Pittsburgh, and John Staszko (Lisa), of Atlanta; and many cousins.
For those who, like her family, feel she has gone too soon, we leave you with these words, which she said often and in a delighted, cheerful tone:
"I didn’t think I would live this long!”
Relatives and friends are invited to her viewing on Tuesday at 9:30 AM at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Requiem Services will be sung at 10:30 AM. Burial will follow at St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Elkins Park, PA.
She loved flowers and would certainly welcome them. However, for those who prefer to make a donation in her memory, donations may go to the Women LISTEN Inc. a cancer support group in Anchorage, AK, where her daughter volunteers, and for which she was an honorary member and cheerleader. (WomenLISTEN, Inc., P.O. Box 110167, Anchorage, AK 99511).
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