May 20, 1926 – March 8, 2020
Pelagia A. Wasilewski, who was part of the underground resistance to the Nazis in Poland during World War II, died Sunday in her home in Buffalo’s Kaisertown neighborhood. She was 93.
Born Pelagia Szafarz in Lodz, Poland, she took part in the resistance with Przysposobienie Wojskowe Kobiet (military training of women), where she was involved with defensive measures, and served the underground as a courier and performing a variety of small tasks.
Her activities earned her a mention and a photo in the book, “A Doll in the Rubble” by Mary Szostak-Sitko, the daughter of a woman in the Polish resistance who was a close friend of Mrs. Wasilewski.
Following the war, she emigrated to England, where she married Francis Wasilewski, who had escaped imprisonment in Poland, served as a tank commander in the Polish Army in exile in North Africa, Italy and France and was a personal bodyguard to Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, president of the Polish government in exile in London.
She and her husband arrived in the U.S. with their two sons aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth on Thanksgiving Day 1955. A day later, they came to Buffalo and he went to work at the Bethlehem Steel plant. He died in 1996.
Known to many as “Pela,” Mrs. Wasilewski worked as a technician in the Bison Products plant on Dingens Street for 20 years, retiring in 1990.
An amateur artist all her life, her paintings of landscapes and religious subjects are displayed in her doctors’ offices and at Mercy Hospital.
She was a parishioner at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, the Mother Church of Polonia in Buffalo, and took part in Polish cultural events.
Survivors include two sons, Roman F. and Andrew P.; a daughter, Deborah Wojcik; four grandchildren; and three great-granddaughters.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered in Polish at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, 389 Peckham St.