Virginia Wiercioch (Kaczmarek), 95, passed on September 26, 2022, in West Lafayette, Indiana. She was born on August 22, 1927, in Detroit, Michigan to the late John and Agnes Kaczmarek (Kubinski). She was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur (Benny), her son-in-law, Scott Morlock, 7 sisters and 2 brothers. Virginia is survived by her five children: Laura (Rick), Steve (Elaine), John, Helen Morlock and Ed (Jane), six grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and many nieces/nephews.
Virginia had a mind for mathematics and after high school was employed at Divco, the Immigration Services, and General Electric, all in Detroit. In 1957, she married Benny and five children soon followed. The family moved to Elkhart, IN in 1969. She was active in the Daughters of Isabella, Rosary Society, Knights of Columbus Food Drive, and many groups at St. Vincent DePaul Church.
A key to her long and vital life was her abiding acceptance and deep appreciation for people, relationships, and all of life’s wonders, great and small. She was a warm, gentle soul who radiated love.
Although never able to pursue education beyond high school, she was interested in many topics. She enjoyed winning at pinochle and scrabble but played as much for the companionship and community it engendered. She held her own to the end in Words With Friends against opponents with undergrad and graduate degrees. More seriously, she was interested in and appreciative of the accomplishments of others in every field. Rather than pursuing status in a career, she was the consummate tolerant but disciplined mother of a rambling clan of children (and all their friends). In her later years, she humbly accepted devoting her energy to the more profound role of gently empowering the lives of everyone she was near.
For many decades the dedicated and caring partner to a bright personality, she was content to avoid the spotlight. Instead she observed, listened carefully, and was clearly the anchor in a sweet, beautiful, and truly loving marriage of 55 years. Never flashy or self-involved, everyone was drawn toward her quiet and kind presence—her warmth and soft radiance were a comfort to all. Her vast kindness, patience, and open personality made her especially adept at guiding others and enabling them to hear their own inner guides.
As a mother, grandparent, aunt, or friend, we all knew we could approach Virginia with the most troubling issues and concerns in our lives, and she would allow us room to feel safe and above all else, very loved. She had an Incredible capacity to sensitively absorb troubles yet help us see beyond them. No matter the depth of the pain or complexity of the crisis, she would listen attentively, withhold judgment, and make one feel heard and fully supported. If asked, she could offer pragmatic heart-centered wisdom, even if at times this was to do nothing but accept the circumstances. Patient and understanding, she always retained a moral compass and shared it if she felt compelled. She was a model of how to live with great integrity and honesty; the epitome of a balance between head and heart.
Despite severe arthritis Virginia had gorgeous handwriting and always sent cards with engaging notes of her own that remembered details about the recipient. She had the very rare skill of expressing her feelings when she felt it was crucial, but in a way that would never offend others. She was always aware of and sensitive to those in her company, often recognizing those who were shy or quiet that others might have not seen or heard. She acted on this by gently attending to them in personal situations, and on a broader social scale was always encouraging of anyone helping others in need.
She was, by everyone’s account, a delight and joy to be around. She was never vain, nor afraid to laugh at herself, and cultivated a happiness borne of her own inner security. Her own childhood in a large, loving family of Polish immigrant parents set her own foundation and guided her sense of what was important in life. The home she created as a mother for her own family was never about impressing others with material things, yet it radiated a palpable warmth that was instantly felt and cherished by all. That home naturally became the hangout and gathering place for any and all of the neighborhood kids. It was common to have non-family members join in meals, especially during holidays, when anyone “needing a place to be” could show up and would be welcomed without question at the family table. She imbued her kids with a love of working together more than competing or complaining, whether in boardgames, or through digging out stranger’s snowbound cars, or simply doing the dishes after meals. Virginia appreciated that as adults her children “all were helping people in some fashion.” She was infinitely grateful that her kids continued her parent’s tradition of tolerance and honestly enjoying being together. She was immensely proud of the character displayed by all her grandchildren and cherished seeing their lives (and their partners’) blossom.
She actively looked for and inevitably pointed out something to admire or compliment in others. On any given day in her 90s she might tell you with a childlike wonder about noticing the simplest thing in nature, often something most of us would never notice — recognizing it for the genuine miracle it was. “Oh my gosh isn’t that just amazing!” Similarly, her loving radar always noticed acts of kindness between people. She could discern sincerity even in how someone approached a task: “Oh—look how they took such care when they did this!”
Her deep appreciation for everything was sincere, infectious, and inspiring to be around. Because she was always honest, she could be trusted through and through. So as a realist, she noticed when people didn’t measure up to her moral compass, but she never dwelled on it. Instead she loved being able to emphasize the good and beautiful: “Isn’t that amazing!”… “Oh my—Look how much she looks like her mom—both so beautiful!”…”Look how he takes care of her..”…”They’re so nice to me! They always treat me so well!…” In this capacity, she was the best of teachers, living an attitude focused on appreciation.
She was quick-witted, but never biting and loathed making anyone feel uncomfortable. She enjoyed simple good meals, her chocolates and modest desserts, and one sensed she never forgot her younger depression-era years when her parents worked very hard to feed a large family. She was by all accounts a delight and joy to be around, right into her final days, gracious and appreciative. She loved learning and fostered this vital quality in her kids, grandkids and friends. Even as her body became more frail she retained her optimism, keen mind, and sensitive heart.
If you were with Virginia she always wanted to know what was happening in your life. Remarkably, weeks later she’d remember what you said about the challenging or joyful path you were on, and all those in your sphere you’d mentioned, whether she’d ever met them or not. Her selfless generosity was overflowing in this way and so many others. She was the hub of our immediate and extended family; she knew what excursions grandkids were on, who was working in what city this month, or traveling to what occasion, or who might be in need of an extra phone call or supportive note.
Virginia prayed daily with great devotion, and had taken on the responsibility of praying rosaries and offering intentions for all who needed it. In her typical organized fashion, she had a long, always updated list of those in need at the moment, dutifully tuning her heart toward them. Later on, gently and pragmatically inquiring if they were doing better, so she might move up others in need from her long queue to the “actively-praying” list. All of this was done with sincerity, care, dedication and abiding love.
On her final evening in this realm, prior to being released from the ER, she commented that she hoped it wouldn’t take too long for the test results. When teasingly asked what her hurry was, she responded in kind “I have a date tonight!” which we can only assume was a semi-conscious reference to her deceased husband, Benny, the love of her life.
There are very few who offer such genuine love in such a soft, steady, quiet yet overflowing fashion. Her passing is a great loss for us all. Yet because of how she lived and the thousands of candles she compassionately kept lit in others, the love she shared and the Light she nurtured will go on.
In Virginia’s honor, be patient; be open; be kind; be love.
Memorial contributions can be directed to St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, 1108 S. Main St., Elkhart, IN 46516 or Knights of Columbus Council 1043, Christmas Food Basket Drive.