Roma Boniecka died on December 27, 2019 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, after struggling with serious ailments for the past several years. She was 88.
Roma was born on May 6,1931, in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland, the daughter of Wladyslaw Boniecki and Janina (Rybak) Boniecka, a working class family. She had a younger brother who passed away in his early forties.
Roma’s father joined the Polish Army in September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland. He was presumably killed in action and never returned home. Soon after the war ended, Roma completed her high school education and subsequently graduated from an Institute of Pedagogy. She worked as a teacher and actively participated in Polish youth organizations, including Girls Scouts. She was appointed a diplomat and worked at the Polish Embassy in Moscow, representing the interests of Polish students seeking a higher education in the Former Soviet Union (1964-1967). She lost her post due to her liberal views and open criticism of restrictions imposed on the freedoms of Polish people by their government.
Roma came to the US in 1973, on an invitation submitted to the Polish authorities by the late Professor Anna Cienciala of the University of Kansas. In 1975, Roma acquired a position at KU as a lecturer and taught Polish language and culture for four years. She also attended KU herself and obtained a Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.
Roma worked in different capacities throughout her life. She retired from the State of Kansas in 1987 after twelve years of service at Topeka State Hospital, where she worked as a psychiatric aide. Her personal qualities of friendliness, empathy, commitment, humor, creativity, spontaneity, and a genuine love for others, especially those in need, were recognized and appreciated by her colleagues and scores of admiring friends in Lawrence and around the US.
Roma was also a gifted and prolific storyteller, frequently delighting dinner guests with vividly recalled episodes from an eventful life. After years of encouragement from friends, she started to pen her memoirs. The first volume, Wyluskane z Pamieci (Shelled Out of Memory), about her childhood experience of World War II, was published in 2019 in Poland. Roma recently completed a second volume, describing her post-war adolescent years (1945-1950). Efforts will be made to publish her second book in Poland in the near future. An English translation is also in progress. Roma’s best friend and life companion, Anna Cienciala, who passed away on December 24, 2014, would describe her as a woman of virtue and hard work. This view is shared by all of those who knew Roma on both continents. She will be greatly missed and long, vividly, and gratefully remembered.
Memorial Services for Roma will take place at a later date. Notification will be posted in the local newspaper by the Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home.
Contributions may be made in Roma’s name to the Lawrence Humane Society.