Zdzislaw John Raclawski
"Man of strong faith"
Zdzislaw John Raclawski, 94 a resident of the PA Soldiers & Sailors Home passed away there, Tuesday December 1, 2020. He was born in Poland October 10, 1926 son of the late Stanislaw and Bronislawa Szymula Raclawski. In 1940, his family was among hundreds of thousands of Poles deported to Russia's Siberian gulags after the country was conquered and divided by Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. He was released on Amnesty in 1941. On crossing the Soviet-Iranian frontier he arrived in the Middle East in 1942. He joined the Polish Forces under British command in Egypt. He served in Egypt (1944), Italy (1944-1946) and the United Kingdom (1946-1948). He helped save the Shrine of Our Lady of Loretto after Hitler bombed it and it was on fire.
In London in 1949, he met Julia Lach a fellow Pole who had also enlisted and whose family had been interned in Siberia by the Russians. They married in 1950 and immigrated to the United States the following year.
The couple settled in Erie, PA. John worked at Gustafson Optical and then at GE until he retired in 1991. He was a longtime member of Holy Trinity Church
John was a great storyteller who inspired and motivated others. He captured his audience's attention by sharing his real life stories.
His hobbies included vegetable gardening, flower gardening, and collecting scrap metal. He also taught people how to give a heart-to-heart hug, lining up his heart with theirs. This is how he would greet family, friends, and complete strangers. There was always joy in his smile, care in his words, and love in his heart. He touched many lives and helped many people. John never forgot the poor, after experiencing poverty himself. He constantly gathered clothes and other items and packaged them, sending them to the poor in Poland, and later to the poor in his own community. He was most generous, collecting and distributing food, furniture, and sometimes money.
John never hid his devotion to God and his friends in heaven. His home was consecrated, he wore a special cross, and was open to everyone about his faith. He became a third-order Franciscan and rose to fourth degree Knight of Columbus. He attended mass daily, was active in the Blue Army, and traveled to Medugorje five times, even during the war in Bosnia, again bringing with him medicine and other supplies. He hosted a weekly prayer group in his home.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years Julia Lach Raclawski, his infant son Joseph Raclawski, sisters Joan Pelka and Helen Dobrowolska, and brothers Casmir and Joseph Raclawski.
Survivors include his son Julian Raclawski (Jadwiga), his daughter Diane Voelker, grandchildren, Kristin Garben (Kevin), Nicholas Voelker, Thomas Voelker, Ania Raclawski, and Christopher Raclawski, great grandchildren Kruze Garben, Kane Garben, Ethan Voelker and Alexander Voelker, his beloved companion whom he adored Mary Tirak, his good friend Tony Grayson, and many relatives in Poland.
No calling hours were observed. Private services were held at the Mary Queen of Peace Cemetery Chapel with entombment in the mausoleum.
The family would like to thank the staff of the PA Soldiers & Sailors Home for their compassionate care during John's stay.
Memorials may be made to Emmaus Soup Kitchen 218 East 11th St. Erie, PA 16503.
The Carl A. Slomski & Son Funeral Home Inc. 2101 Ash St. handled arrangements.
Please send condolences to www.slomskifuneralhome.com
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