Teresa was born in the ancient city of Czestochowa, Poland on November 1, 1927, and came of age in Warsaw. As a young woman, she joined the Polish Resistance to fight the Nazis in the Warsaw Uprising with the aim of liberating the Polish capital. In the aftermath of Russia’s occupation of Poland after World War II, she was one of two women to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute.
As Poland fell into Communist oppression, Teresa attempted to flee the Iron Curtain across the Baltic Sea, but was betrayed and imprisoned. Although her first escape attempt failed, her spirit was not broken and she managed to leave Poland with her two young children, gained political asylum, and reached the United States in 1967.
Teresa’s life in the New World began on her own. She learned English and worked first as a draftsman and then as an HVAC engineer for Cosentini Associates and Vanderweil Engineers until her retirement in 1999. During these years the companies built the first expansion of Boston and some of his projects included the CVC design for the John Hancock Tower, Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Franklin Park Zoo, and Tufts Medical Center. She educated her two children who both obtained postgraduate degrees; one becoming a doctor and the other an engineer. In retirement, Teresa spent time helping raise her two grandchildren, walking dogs at the Northeast Animal Shelter, and singing in the St. John the Evangelist Choir.
In her youth, she enjoyed skiing, rally racing and gliding. Years later, she enjoyed cooking Polish dishes, singing Christmas carols, arguing with priests, and watching stars, comets and planets under clear winter skies. The only love that rivaled her love of family was Teresa’s love for dogs. Having had seven dogs in her lifetime, she has worked tirelessly to make Nahant’s Dog Beach accessible to all pets, regardless of the season. May the canine-headed god Anubis be kind as he takes her to distant shores where all the animals she loved wag their tails greedily.
The light she brought to the New World lives in her sister Marysia and her husband Edward Pilatowicz; son Konrad Marchaj; her daughter Dorothy and her husband Karl Allen; grandson Kaleb Allen; granddaughter Rebecca and her husband Zach Stebbins; and her favorite great-granddaughter Tessa Rose Stebbins. Teresa’s words “Kochajcie sie”, love each other, meant goodbye.
Memorial services will be announced and held at a later date, near Christmas. Donations in honor of Teresa can be made to Northeast Animal Shelter, 347 Highland Avenue, Salem, MA 01970.
Published by Boston Globe September 24-26, 2021.