On October 7th of this year 2000, a very special event took place here in Seattle: Ms. Jadwiga Golubiec, a well-known and respected member of our Polish Community, was honored with the Knights’ Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.  This is the highest honor awarded to foreigners by the President of the Republic of Poland.  Ms. Jadwiga received this honor as a result of her commendable work with the Polish Cultural Foundation LIBERTAS as well as her contributions to the Polish Museum in Rappersville, Switzerland.

            I had the honor of being present at this event.  The ceremony took place at the residence of Marta and Roman Golubiec, and the medal was pinned on Ms. Jadwiga Golubiec by Consul Jerzy Walewski.  Also present at this event were friends of the Polish Museum in Rappersville, as well as relatives and friends of Ms. Jadwiga.

            Let me start by telling you about this extraordinary woman.  Ms. Jadwiga was born in Riga, Latvija, where, as she herself explained, attended three different schools, all in a different languages: Polish elementary school, Russian high school, and finally Latvian University, where she studied geography.  After finishing her studies at the university, she taught geography, chemistry, and language at various schools.  It was at this time that Ms. Jadwiga also married the Secretary of the Polish Embassy in Riga, Boleslaw Golubiec.

Mrs. Golubiec and Marta Egert  
at Polish Embassy in Riga

           World War II came, and Ms. Jadwiga and her family were touched by these events as many during that time were: her parents and husband were sent off to Siberia, and she herself, along with young son Roman, were sent to a refugee camp in Germany.  From there both emigrated to the United States in 1950, ending up in Chicago, Illinois.

            According to Ms. Jadwiga herself, this period in Chicago was a very interesting one in her life, both professionally and personally.  She worked at a map library for the well-known map-making company Rand McNally, and it was here that her son Roman married and she became a grandmother.  All of these events culminated in Ms. Jadwiga’s decision to move with her family to Seattle.

Mrs. Jadwiga Golubiec and her son, 
Roman Golubiec arriving by train to Chicago

    Ms. Jadwiga’s adventures with the renowned Polish Museum in Rappersville, Switzerland began during a trip outside the United States, where she was pursuing her other passion in life, traveling.  During one of her trips, a group of Polish friends introduced her to Janusz Morkowski, and consequently, to the story of the Polish Museum in Rappersville.  Mr. Morkowski was the director of the museum at that time, as well as the founder of the Polish Cultural Foundation LIBERTAS.

            As soon as Ms. Jadwiga returned to Seattle, she decided to initiate a group of friends of the Polish Museum in Rappersville, whose main focus was to collect money for the museum.  This led to the famous “Sunday Tea Parties at Ms. Jadwiga’s,” which, since 1982, have helped collect close to twenty five thousand Swiss Francs for the museum.

            The more than 100 year history of the Polish Museum in Rappersville is similar to the tumultuous history of Poland.  The museum was founded in 1870 by Count Wladyslaw Plater, a Pole who took part in the November Insurrection of 1830.  It was at the time the only Polish National Museum in the world, filling the role of not only a museum of Polish culture, but also a symbol of free Poland.

            As a result of political changes, the museum was shut down twice.  In 1975, due to the efforts of Janusz Morkowski, the museum was reopened, hopefully permanently. 

Moment of decoration

  It should be noted that all of the pieces at the museum were granted by emigrants.  Therefore this museum is doubly ours, not only because we are Poles, but also emigrants.

Ms. Jadwiga is also very active in our Polish community here in Seattle.  For over twenty years she has been chronicling the history of the Polish Home; she works with the Ladies Auxiliary, and is always present to support us at all functions and events.

            The year 2000 has been very special for Ms. Jadwiga.  In addition to being recognized for her selfless efforts, she has also been blessed with a great-grandson, Mark and Beata’s son Nicholas Golubiec.

            We wish Ms. Jadwiga many congratulations and many, many more years of estimable, noble contributions.

            In conclusion, I wish to quote a fragment of a letter to Ms. Jadwiga from Janusz Morkowski, director of the museum:

                      My dear Ms. Jadwiga,

You have more than deserved the recognition you received for your social and patriotic deeds.  If not for your admirable efforts, we would have not received so many donations.  And on top of that, you are always so kind, hard-working, and easy to work with.  I won’t even mention the excellent cakes that you make for all our guests…you should receive recognition just for that!

 

            We here in Seattle can only add that we are very happy and proud to have Ms. Jadwiga Golubiec as a member of our Polish community.

Katarzyna (Kasia) Pietrzyk

Seattle, November 2000

 

Ms. Jadwiga Golubiec died on April 5, 2005

Ms. Golubiec, a lady well known and liked in the Polish community, celebrated her 100th birthday in January. Born in Kronstadt, Russia, she survived the Russian Revolution to become one of the first women graduating with a M.Sc. from the University of Riga, Latvia. After Soviet invasion of Latvia in 1940, she lost her Polish parents and husband to Gulag, but survived WWII in Latvia and Germany with son Ron. She came to US in 1950 and worked as librarian for Rand McNally. For her lifetime activities promoting Polish culture abroad, in 2000 she was honored with the Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

 

Mrs. Jadwiga Golubiec