ROMANOWSKA, Irene Danuta, 101, of Dayton, passed away Sunday, March 22, 2020. Danuta was born in the townof Wieliczka, Poland near Krakow to Stefan and Katarzyna (Zazula) Rosiek. She was the fourth of five siblings: sisters (half), Eleanora "Lonia", Janina "Janka", Jadwiga "Jadzka" and baby brother Juliusz "Julek" Rosiek(Zofia. In 1939 her life changed suddenly from carefree to constant survival with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany.
Once Poland was occupied by Germany, Danuta's family and her fiance, Lech Wojciechowski, became involved in Communication and Propaganda work for the Resistance. They published and distributed independent underground flyers and press. They were also involved with intel. Radios were hidden in the house, one in leg of a dining room table. Having a radio was punishable by death. They had to decipher voice and Morse code transmissions.
It was Danuta who would courier the decoded information to other members of the Polish underground. She did this cleverly sewing extra linings into many articles of clothing to hide what she carried. One of her favorite methods of transporting the most crucial intelligence was in an old fur winter muff.
During these tense times schools of higher learning were closed down by the Nazis. In order to learn, students in small groups would have to study in secret - in cemeteries, basements and attics. Danuta continued her education with the underground faction of Jagiellonian University of Krakow. The hunger for learning was so great because it helped ease the tragedy of daily life. She studied history, literature, Polish language and the arts, which became a big part of her life after the war.
Danuta was eventually arrested by the Gestapo. She was fortunate in that she was only arrested as a suspect. They had no physical evidence on her which would have meant instant death. So she was imprisoned in the Gestapo's prison in Krakow where she was brutally interrogated for some time. BUt Danuta persevered. She never revealed her real identity nor did she give away any information concerning the underground or its activities. She was eventually released. Lech was very compassionate and understanding of what Danuta had been through. The last years of the war were spent in hiding and helping the resistance and she and Lech were married during this time.
Danuta and Lech survived the Nazi occupation. But after the war, the Communist regime of Russia was targeting patriots and freedom fighters. So once again they were on the run. They had to leave their beloved Poland.
While they were refugees in Western Germany, Lech worked in a ship yard, but eventually contracted tuberculosis. He was on his death bed in the hospital where Danuta stayed by his side, comforting him, lifting his spirits until he passed away.
Leonidas Romanowski was a doctor at this same hospital. He had been an officer in the regular Polish Army, serving the military, fighting against the German Nazis and was eventually captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. After he was liberated by the Allies, he stayed in Germany working at the hsopital to help the refugees. This is where he met Danuta. He later admitted he watched her comforting her sick husband and admired how much love and commitment she had. He described how she was very gentle and tender, yet helping Lech through with fierce determination to fight any obstacles. He confessed that he wished he would someday marry a woman with such an unbreakable spirit. And eventually he did.
Germany was bittersweet, so when the opportunity arose, newly married Leonidas and Danuta decided to embark on a new adventure and build their new, free life in the US. Their journey took them from Chicago to Columbus, Cincinnati and eventually Dayton. Here Dr. Leonidas, after redoing his medical education and receiving his license, was hired by Wright Patterson AFB Hospital and eventually the VA Hospital in Dayton. Danuta longed to visit her homeland but it was still very risky. In order to do so she had to renounce her Polish citizenship. This did make it possible for her to finally visit. During this time Danuta was active in the Dayton Polish community and the parish of St. Adalbert. Here she taught Polish dancing, worked in the religious education classes and taught Polish to anyone that wanted to learn. The dance group would perform for many years at the annual Dayton World Affair and at several festivals around the area celebrating world cultures. The costumes which Danuta had brought back from her visits to Poland along with a multitude of traditional Polish tapestries, crystal, art, etc. She shared many of these with colleagues and friends.
Danuta spent 35 plus years at Wright State University working as the Music Librarian where hundreds of students, faculty and staff were recipients of her generous spirit and knowledge. They lovingly called her Mrs. R. She attended many of the students recitals, particularly the piano recitals where one might hear her beloved Chopin being performed. In 2001 the university established the Irene Romanowski Piano Scholarship in honor or her 100th birthday where students, one a recipient of her piano scholarship, played several classical works including Chopin. This honor was made possible by the faculty and staff that had grown to care for her and her vibrant spirit over the years.
After retiring from WSU, Danuta generously devoted her time to translating poems about the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Marion Library at the University of Dayton. While this gave her a purpose, it was a gift that could never be repaid. As a result of this work, Danuta compiled, with help from her friends, a beautiful collection of translated Polish Poems and pictures of Polish Madonna's. This small book, "Polish Madonna's Poems and Images", was published and copies given to the parishioners of St. Adalbert church and sent to several Polish organization, universities, friends and family.
Danuta's devotuon to Mary, specifically Our Lady of Czestochowa, was present very day of her life. Every visit with her would end with her saying, "I will pray to our Mother for you, in Polish!" Her love of church and country, both US and Poland, Krakow, Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Polish wool clothing and tapestries, flowers, and art were treasured in her heart, and she would proudly share these passions with anyone who was open to wonder. She will be greatly missed.
Danuta was preceded in death by her parents, siblings and her beloved husbands, Lech and Leonidas as well as her nephews Roman Rosiek of Krakow, Poland who assisted in providing much of the information for Danuta's life story. She is survived by her many friends.
A special thanks to friends, nurses and aids at 10 Wilmington Place, caregivers from Home Instead and the doctors, nurses and caregivers from Vitas Hospice that supported Danuta during her final months.
In accordance with the Emergency Stay at Home and Social Distancing Order issued by the state of Ohio, there will be no visitation or services. You may express your condolences, light a candle and share any special memories and messages to her family by clicking the share memories tab above. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. There will be a Memorial Mass celebrated at St. Adalbert Church at a later date.