Mildred (Millie) Rytel, 92, of Highland, passed away peacefully on April 4 at home surrounded by her loving family. She is survived by her daughters, Chris Waszut of Glendora, CA, and Liz (Mike) Mudroncik of Munster; grandchildren Evan, Colin and Emily Mudroncik and Stephanie and Kelcy Waszut; sisters Lottie Koziel (9…read more
Mildred (Millie) Rytel, 92, of Highland, passed away peacefully on April 4 at home surrounded by her loving family. She is survived by her daughters, Chris Waszut of Glendora, CA, and Liz (Mike) Mudroncik of Munster; grandchildren Evan, Colin and Emily Mudroncik and Stephanie and Kelcy Waszut; sisters Lottie Koziel (95), Lucille Krupa (91), and niece Barbara Crooks. She is preceded in death by her husband Stefan, and parents Walter and Stefania Zygmunt.
Millie was born on November 22, 1926, on a farm in Poland. During WWII, the farm was captured by the Russian army in 1939 and she and her family were consigned to a Siberian work camp where they were held until 1941 when England negotiated a release of the prisoners. They were sent to Tanganyika (Tanzania), Africa, by way of Persia (Iran). Millie, her mother and sister, Lucy, lived in a Polish camp while her father and sister, Lottie, served in the Polish army. Upon graduating high school in Africa, Millie obtained a nursing certificate and worked as a nurse in the camp. When the war ended, they sent a message from Africa to Millie’s maternal aunt, Apolonia Bury, in North Hammond to sponsor their passage to the United States via a Polish-language radio show broadcast in Chicago. Millie and her family arrived in America in 1948 and in 1949 she attended a dance in East Chicago where she met the love of her life, Stefan. Soon after getting married in 1954, they set up a home in the Woodmar area of Hammond and had two children. Stefan worked at Inland Steel for 24 years until his tragic death in 1973 from an explosion at the plant.
A single mother, Millie raised her two daughters while working full-time and giving back to her community by getting deeply involved in the Polish National Alliance (PNA). She was a founding member of PNA Lodge 3095; president and secretary of Council 49; vice president and flag bearer of PNA Ladies’ Auxiliary Post 40; and a delegate to numerous PNA national and regional conventions for her lodge and council. She also won multiple awards for her service.
In addition to her family, Millie loved traveling, gardening, exercising and sharing tales about her life adventures as she was a memorable and charming person. Fascinated by her story, neighbor Sandy Lundin penned and published her biography, Four Continents to Freedom, in 2007.
Family and friends are invited to share in the celebration of Millie’s life on April 15 from 3 – 8 p.m. at Kish Funeral Home, 10000 Calumet Ave, Munster, IN. and from 9:30-10:00 am at the church. Funeral services will be held April 16 at St. James the Less Catholic Church, 9640 Kennedy Ave, Highland, IN at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, 801 Michigan City Rd, Calumet City, IL.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to the Hospice of Calumet Area or the NW Indiana Food Bank in her name; buy her biography and learn about an important part of world history; or reach out and have a conversation with a senior citizen to learn their amazing history.hide
Date: Monday, April 15, 2019
Time: 3:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Time: 9:30 am - 10:00 am
Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Time: 10:00 am
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