Anna Jadwiga Crawford (Ciecimirski), 84, of Indianapolis, passed away on December 13, 2023. She was born February 12, 1939, in Stanisławow (Poland), to the Late Stanislaus Josef Eugeniusz Ciecimirski and Karolina Anna (Pacak).
Anna's early years were profoundly affected by events of World-War II, which led to significant deprivation of the most basic necessities for living. With her father away as a Captain in the Polish Army, one night in early-1940, her mother, Anna and two elder brothers were awoken up in their home while Poland was being invaded and given minutes to gather essential possessions with other Polish families by freight-train to Siberia. This journey "lasted weeks", with the only luxury of a tiny stove for melting snow (collected during occasional stops) for drinking water. Her mother, a resourceful seamstress made lace-bordered handkerchiefs in exchange for sustenance.
By late-1942, by Polish General Władysław Anders allowed them to leave Siberia and travel across the Caspian Sea to Tehran, Iran.
From Tehran, both Mother and her "Yagoda" or "Yagudka" [affectionate diminutives of "[Anna] Jadwiga"] were sent to Africa, to a Polish camp near Ndola, called Bwana Mkubwa (in today's Zaire), near a copper mine. Anna remembered a school to help them remember their Polish heritage and culture. But she was mostly 'home-schooled' by her wise mother who taught her to appreciate life all around her. After "some time" they were sent to Gatooma (today's Kadoma, in Zimbabwe) to another camp for another long stint with other Polish women and children.
By 1947 both mother and daughter left Gatooma for Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where her mother worked for "a couple of years". Anna and her mother were separated. Anna's life-long love for dogs began with Koko and Laddie as her sole companions. She and her mother were finally reunited [in Bremerhaven, Germany], with her father, who was liberated just in time from Mauthausen concentration camp. They were finally joined by both her brothers (from Palestine) and subsequently secured papers to travel by ship to USA. They finally passed through Ellis Island, New York, and reached Indianapolis in 1951.
Anna was in the 1957 high school graduating class of St. Mary's Academy in Indianapolis. She went on to attend Alliance College, an independent, Liberal Arts College in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania - the only Polish American institution of higher education in the United States. Although she jokingly claimed that she advertised [and eventually sold] her second-hand books as 'never touched by human hands', Anna's education at Alliance [and extensive travels as a child and adult] gave her an impressive knowledge base. It helped foster her lasting deep interest and love for the Fine Arts. She was particularly inspired by Western Art, Western Classical Music and the Opera, Polish and English Literature, and Theology. Anna had a special love for classic Hollywood movies, and songs and lyrics from 'The Great American Songbook'; she could often play 'Name that Tune' in only 3-4 notes!
She later was a 2nd Grade teacher at St. Simon, Indianapolis.
Anna was very proud of her Polish heritage, but also loved being an American and a Hoosier (in that order) upon receiving US citizenship. She was co-founder of the Polish Cultural Society of Indianapolis and remained active as Past-President. This Society was created to heighten appreciation by Indiana's citizens for the diversity and richness of Polish culture, and especially to highlight unique achievements of those of Polish descent in the Arts and Sciences. She was also deeply involved in many humanitarian projects to help Polish Americans and those remaining 'back home' in Poland.
The events during her prolonged odyssey across several countries in childhood before the age of 12-years (Poland, Russia, Iran, Africa, Scotland, Germany, and USA), left an indelible mark on Anna. Much remained in her memory which invariably made her a delightful conversationalist. She had an eye for beauty, and if there were two words to describe this remarkable woman and how she carried herself, it would have to be: "Elegance Personified". This coupled with her characteristic warm smile and kindness made her endeared to family, her many friends, and her "lovely neighbors".
Anna's Catholic faith was very important to her, and a source of much peace throughout her life. Anna will be missed by all who knew her, and whose lives she touched deeply, especially her daughter, Jennifer (Crawford) Fuller, son-in-law, Mark Fuller, and "[her] two very special boys" - Maxwell and Lucas Fuller (grandsons). She will also be missed by close friend, Dr. Asok Antony. Anna is also survived by her two nieces, Susan Arnold (daughter, Caroline) and Angela Knowlton, and nephew, Leszek Ciecimirski (son, Evan). She was preceded in death by her brothers, George and Leszek Ciecimirski.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, January 19, 10:30 AM, at St. Pius X Church, 7200 Sarto Drive, Indianapolis 46240. Anna's Final Resting Place will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, in Indianapolis, in a private ceremony. She will be laid to rest with her parents and daughter, Eva Marie. Anna had an incredible life here and will be reunited with her parents, daughter, brothers and extended family in Heaven.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Anna's memory to the American Red Cross, or the Polish Cultural Society of Indiana. In donating to the Polish Cultural Society, please add "In Memory of Anna Crawford".