Jeannette Tyghem Bronkiewicz died peacefully at Pope John Paul II Center for Care and Rehabilitation, Danbury, Connecticut on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
Jeannette entered the world on April 1, 1914 in Paris, France, the younger of two daughters born to Jules Tyghem and Jeanne Venault Tyghem. A member of the French infantry in World War I, Jeannette’s 27 year old father was killed in 1914 in one of its early battles.
Jeannette grew up with her mother and sister in Puteaux, a Paris suburb, and attended local schools. After graduating from high school with honors she went to work for the French postal department in St. Cloud, another Paris suburb.
By 1939 and the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Jeannette was working for French bank in Paris itself and remained in that job throughout the Nazi occupation of France.
In 1944, after the liberation of Paris, through a chance encounter, Jeannette met Staff Sergeant Julian Bronkiewicz, who was serving in an American artillery unit. It was not long before she introduced him to her mother, sister and other relatives. On October 10, 1945, they were civilly married in accordance with French law, and five days later exchanged vows in a simple wedding ceremony in the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Cloud.
Because Catholics must provide recently dated baptismal certificates prior to marriage, and the war prevented Julian from returning to Poland to obtain his, they needed the permission of the Apostolic Nuncio (Papal Ambassador) to France to celebrate a Church wedding. At that time the Nuncio happened to be Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII. Jeannette remembered a wonderful meeting with a smiling papal diplomat, who warmly welcomed a rather nervous couple and conversed with them in French and Polish, congratulated them and gave them his special blessing. It was an encounter Jeannette would never forget and of which she often spoke during the rest of her life.
At the end of World War II, Staff Sergeant Bronkiewicz returned to the US with his army unit, and eventually to his home in Norwalk, Connecticut. Jeannette followed several months later. On February 5, 1947, their first and only child, Laurence, was born. In 1953, Julian was diagnosed with leukemia, and Jeannette spent the next four years caring for her terminally ill husband until his death on February 17, 1957.
For over twenty five years, Jeannette worked for Loehmann’s in Norwalk, selling high fashion women’s apparel. She left Loehmann’s in 1978 and worked for several years at Isabel Eland in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Jeannette very much enjoyed her years in retirement and used the opportunity it gave her to do some traveling with friends. In November of 2004, at the age of 90, Jeannette was admitted to Pope John Paul II Center for Care and Rehabilitation, a skilled nursing facility in Danbury, Connecticut.
She is survived by her son, Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, Pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Ridgefield, her niece, Yannick Coze, and her husband, Jean Bellier who reside in Paris, France, and a number of cousins in France.
In reflecting on his mother, her son remembers a great and wonderful lady, totally dedicated to her vocation of wife and mother whose intelligence, love, sensitivity, and understanding will never be forgotten by him and all those whose lives she touched. Not only will death reunite her with her husband – it will also be a first meeting with the father she never met.
Msgr. Bronkiewicz will receive friends at Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield, on Sunday, February 10, from 5 P.M. to 8 P.M. He will preside at a Mass of Christian Burial on Monday, February 11, at 1:15 PM in Saint Mary Church, Ridgefield.
At her request, Jeannette will be cremated, and her cremains will be interred next to her beloved husband, Julian, in Saint John Cemetery, Norwalk, at a later time.