Helen Mary was born on July 12, 1919 to Polish immigrants John & Marya Eva Dziubczynski. She grew up in Camden, New Jersey with her 8 brothers and sisters (Ed, Paul, Johnny, Stas, Judy, Catherine, Dodie and Lorraine). Helen loved attending Catholic school, and she often played dress-up by wrapping a cloth diaper on her head, pretending to be a nun. She also had a competitive spirit being the best at jacks and jumping rope. Helen was quite the mathematician, and upon her father’s request, she would review his paycheck for accuracy.
Later in life, Helen joined the US Navy. She felt it was her duty like many citizens during that time of War. Helen was a Pharmacist Mate 2-C and even though she had the opportunity to be stationed in many different parts of the country, she chose the Marine Depot in Philadelphia so she could be close to family and friends.
She met the love of her life, Edmund Zbikowski in the neighborhood. Ed was a softie for this woman in uniform, as she walked off the bus to return home from work and passed by the bar each day. Small talk eventually evolved into social weekend gatherings in the town of Dorothy with friends, for a good time laughing, eating and (Helen’s and Ed’s favorite past time) dancing.
Helen and Ed then married on May 11, 1947. To keep that day and memory alive, they had a movie camera that captured many details of that day for their family to enjoy. They honeymooned in our nation’s capital.
On August 30, 1948, Helen and Ed had their first child, James Edmund, who was quite an active child. Then on November 25th, 1951 they were doubly blessed with surprise twins, Robert Edward and Mary Beth. The thought that God does not give you more than you can handle probably crossed her mind a few times during some sleepless nights. Their fourth child, Nancy Beth was born on September 4, 1957, evening out the family now with 2 boys and 2 girls.
There was never a doubt that Helen loved her role as Mother. She was active as Room Mother in school, brownie leader, and Whitman Park snack bar helper. In the snowy winter days, you could see her pulling the sled down Chase Street with the kids in tow. And in the summer, the highlight for the family was the seasonal vacation to Ocean City, which continues on even today.
As her own children grew older and were married, Helen welcomed into her family her sons-in-law (Tom and Mark) and daughters-in-law (Sally and Maria) as her own children. Helen was blessed with many grandchildren (Dana, Cari, Michelle, Jennifer, Heather, Scott, Bobby, Jill, Kim, Justin, Kristen, and Deanna), and several great grandchildren (Chelsea, Brielle, Jared, Kyle, Cameron, Michael, Brody, Krista, and Max). She showered each of her grands and great-grands with the love and affection only a grandmother could provide. Each great-grand child could look forward to a beautiful blanket crocheted by Helen’s own hands.
Although she was 86 years old, Helen took great pride in appearing much younger. Going to aerobics at the Senior Center, walking 4 miles a day (very quickly!), waltzing around the dance floor at weddings, eating healthy foods and wearing stylish fashions, Helen was an inspiration of youthful spirit to everyone.
She was also a wonderful cook—from the traditional Polish dishes of Pierogies, Golabki and Easter Barszcz, to the cookie “traditions” she created in her home of nut cups, butter cookies, and crispy chocolate chips. Besides cooking wonderful meals for her husband every night, she was often calling her children to have them pick up a meal she also made for their family.
Helen also had a canny way with words. Whether it was completing the Cryptogram or the Crosswords, Helen could be found late into the night “doing the puzzles” in the newspaper. She was unbeatable at Boggle, unstoppable at Scrabble, and a whiz at Wheel of Fortune. Her way with words also brought about some fun poetry to read. Each special occasion, a wedding, a birthday, or even a dance recital, was often accompanied by rhyming verses penned by Helen.
But Helen’s greatest attribute was her big heart. Everyone always knew that they were welcome in her home for a wonderful meal, a quick snack or just to chat. And you never left empty handed, usually toting some dessert for later.
Helen truly was an angel here on earth. God placed her here to graciously touch each one of us with so much love and compassion. But He knew her job was complete and was ready to give her a golden place in Heaven. However, she is not truly gone. For she lives on in each of our hearts and through our daily lives. For it is by her example that we know true generosity, pure kindness and nothing but love.