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Bessie Wanda Kaminski



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Bessie Wanda Kaminski, nee Grzeskiewicz, 89, of Sandy Hook, Connecticut, died on June 19 at Maplewood at Stony Hill, Bethel.

Bessie was born in Bullville, New York, on August 29, 1932, to Wladyslaw and Bronislawa (Duchnowska) Grzeskiewicz. Soon after her birth, Bessie’s family moved to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Bessie graduated in 1950 from the highly regarded all-girls (at the time) Bay Ridge High School. She continued her education at Hunter College in Manhattan, where she received a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in English, in 1954, followed by a master’s degree in education. Thus starting Bessie’s career as an elementary school teacher, initially on Staten Island, commuting daily by ferry. Her young students referred to her as “Miss Grass Cabbage” given the difficulties in pronouncing her last name of Grzeskiewicz.

Bessie was proud of her Polish heritage and very active in Polish social clubs in the Brooklyn area. At a dance, she met the love of her life, Stanley Kaminski. They married on August 28, 1954, and settled in Bay Ridge. Bessie put her teaching career on hold once their first daughter, Katherine, arrived. After their second daughter, Teresa, was born, the family moved to Jamaica, Queens, and then in the later 1960s to Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Bessie then continued her teaching career, first as a permanent substitute teacher in Bristol Township, and then as a third-grade teacher at St John the Evangelist elementary school in Morrisville.

In 1990, upon her husband’s retirement, Bessie and Stan moved to Citrus Springs, Florida, where they became active in their community and in their parish of St Elizabeth Ann Seton. With Stanley, Bessie served on the weekly patrol service of the Citrus Springs Surveillance Unit. Bessie also volunteered at the Citrus Springs Memorial Library. In 2014, Bessie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Stanley was her primary caregiver for many years. Daughter Katherine moved from New Jersey to Florida to take over the caregiver role for both Bessie and Stan in 2019. After Stan’s death in 2020, Bessie moved to Connecticut, first to East Norwalk and then to the Sandy Hook area.

Bessie leaves behind her two dearly loved daughters and their families: Katherine Johnson of Belleview, Florida, her husband Elliot Johnson, and her two children, Christopher Bowman and Kira Paul; and Teresa Polley of Sandy Hook, Connecticut, her husband, Robert Polley, and their son and his wife, John and Catherine Kearns. Bessie also is survived by her nephews, Richard Meyersburg, Ronald Meyersburg, and Roger Kuhlman; and her niece, Janet Kuhlman, along with an extended family of grand-nieces, grand-nephews, and cousins.

Bessie was predeceased by her and Stanley’s infant son, Stanley Michael. She also was predeceased by her sisters, Helen Meyersburg and Genevieve Kuhlman.

The family wishes to express its gratitude to the staffs of Maplewood at Strawberry Hill in East Norwalk, Maplewood at Stony Hill in Bethel, and Regional Hospice Care of Danbury, for the extraordinary care Bessie received over the last two years and in her final days. We extend special thanks to Tracy, one of Bessie’s caregivers at Maplewood, who was exceptionally vigilant over her, and with whom many laughs were shared; and to Jenn, her nurse and case manager from Regional Hospice, who helped ensure Bessie’s comfort and guided her family through her last days.

A Memorial Mass in celebration of Bessie’s life will be announced at a later date, to be held at St Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Citrus Springs, Florida.

The family suggests contributions in memory of Bessie go to Regional Hospice, 30 Milestone Road, Danbury CT 06810; or to the Alzheimer’s Association, alz.org.

Online condolences may be left at spadaccinofuneralhome.com.

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