Helen Sophia Rzanca, age 95, of Munising, died early Wednesday morning, March 28, 2018 at the MediLodge in Munising with family by her side. She was born on August 12, 1922 in Munising and was the last surviving child of Jacob and Anna (Kaplan) Woodaz. Helen grew up in Munising and graduated from Sacred Heart School and then stayed at home to help raise her seven younger siblings. She worked at the Victoria Hotel on Elm Avenue. Helen married August “Red” “The Accordion” Rzanca on September 27, 1941 and together raised their four sons. Helen was a hard worker making ends meet when the Atlas Plywood Plant closed down in the early 1950’s. She struggled to keep food on the table and wood in the stove along with Red and her sons. Red held odd jobs wherever he could until he was hired as a bus driver in 1962. Helen was a stay at home mom making her famous Polish dishes and desserts. Helen was a faithful lifetime member of Sacred Heart Parish and was active with the charismatic prayer group and St. Anthony Guild. She was also a proud member of the Polish American Society and proud of her heritage. Helen and Red were members of the Polish Fun and Dance Club and would go on trips to other Polish dances. They also travelled to Poland to see her distant cousins and enjoyed trips to Branson, Missouri, Texas, and California. Helen and Red were married over seventy-one years when he preceded her in death on March 9, 2013. Helen loved flower gardening and always told the grandchildren, “You better not touch my bleeding hearts.” She also enjoyed arts, crafts, and beadwork.
She is survived by three sons – Richard “Rick” (Elain) Rzanca of Taylor, MI, Michael “Mike” (Ann) Rzanca of Munising, and Kenneth “Ken” (Josephine “Jo-Jo”) Rzanca of Munising; grandchildren – Jeanette, Jolene, Jason, Jennifer, Lisa, Carol, Hiedi and Melissa; many great and great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents, husband Red, son Jacob “Jake” Rzanca, and siblings - siblings – John (Pat) Woodaz, Cecilia “Cilly” Woodaz, Theodore “Tage” (Betty) Woodaz, Mary (John) Kordish, Bernard “Bruno” Woodaz, Bernice Woodaz, and Stella (Bill) Cabanaw.
Services will be held on Monday, April 2, 2018. Visitation will be held at the Bowerman Funeral Home from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Helen’s Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Chris Gardiner at Sacred Heart Church at 12:00 noon. Interment will be at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Munising and Helen will be escorted by grandchildren: Hiedi, Natasha, Brittany, Carol, Dan, and Janette.