August 15, 1921 – May 9, 2019
Martha Wielgos-Swigart, 97, of South Bend, Indiana passed away on May 9, 2019 after a courageous bout with cancer while residing at North Woods Village Memory Care.
She was born in the Borough of Braddock, Pennsylvania, on August 15, 1921, the daughter of the late Telesfor Czerniak and Kazmiera Siwinska Czerniak. In relocation to South Bend, she was most proud of her Polish heritage, her fluent Polish, living in a Polish neighborhood, and her mother’s being conversant in seven languages acquired as a nanny in Poland before relocating to the United States. Uniquely, this culture affected almost weekly get-togethers with many family members and very conversant interactions between grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Everyone admired her ability to create original Polish meals, like sausage, pierogi and her famous kiflis. .
Martha was preceded in death by her first, great love, John Paul Wielgos, Sr. (1964) and then her husband of nearly forty years, Edwin E. Swigart (2013). She was also the sister to the late Helen Aichele, Irene Przybylinski, Jane Badowski, Zygmont Czerniak and Aurelia Nowacki. Uniquely, her brother Zygmont dubbed her nickname as Minya- likely due to her being five foot one inch tall and one hundred and four pounds of solid muscle. Most everyone would gasp when she flexed her biceps.
Martha had three children with her husband, John Wielgos Sr: Dennis (Marilyn) Wielgos,
Susan (Larry) Bunnell, and John Wielgos, II. She has five grandchildren: Jennifer Wielgos Burkhart, Larry John Bunnell, Holly Wielgos Huffman, Kevin Bunnell and JP Wielgos III. She also cherished her great-grand children: Luke Burkhart, Ashley Burkhart, Madelyn Huffman and Brendan Huffman. There are thirteen nieces and nephews who survive.
Martha attended St. Adalbert’s Grade School and graduated from South Bend Catholic High School. Upon John’s return from WWII, they married in August 1945. She began a working career as a patrol crossing guard primarily for students walking to St. Anthony’s Elementary and John Adams High School, and then she became the senior check-out clerk at Russell’s Grocery Store. She eventually worked at Associates Financial Headquarters until the entity moved out of state. Given her first husband’s early demise, she raised and supported her three children on her own for ten years. When she married Edwin Swigart in 1974, they both raised the youngest child.
Martha was a devout Catholic, a dedicated mother and spouse, and a very considerate person. She was quite social and communicative, loved bingo, going on long walks, playing the harmonica, was an avid fan of Notre Dame football and loved reading novels. Her most favorite songs to play on her harmonica were the Notre Dame Fight Song (Victory March) and the Polish National Anthem. She was well known for her sense of humor and her unique ability to spontaneously create verbal poetry in her conversations. For years she was a member of the St. Cecelia’s Polish Choir at St. Adalbert’s. Her most notable asset was her dedication to her children, her desire for their working hard and achieving success, her warm and loving care, and her setting an admirable example for them to follow.
Our family wishes to thank the amazing staff at both North Woods Village Memory Care and Great Lakes Hospice who always provided loving care, compassion and support to Martha – allowing her passing to be one of dignity and grace.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., May 20th (Monday) at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 52553 Fir Rd., Granger, Indiana. Visitation begins at 9:30 a.m. with the Mass to follow. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Great Lakes Hospice, 3355 Douglas Road STE 100 South Bend, Indiana 46635 or St. Pius X Church, 52553 Fir Rd. Granger, Indiana 46530, in memory of Martha Wielgos-Swigart.