Janina Michalak

Janina K Michalak (Kogut)

Monday, May 8th, 1939 - Friday, August 28th, 2020
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Janina Michalak, 81, of Elizabeth, Illinois, passed away on August 28, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. Janina was born on May 8, 1939 to Józef and Emilia Kogut, who at the time were living abroad in France. During the war, the family returned to Poland, settling on a farm in the southwest near Jelenia Góra. There, Janina grew up and went to school with her brother Edward and sister Stanisława. In 1960 she married Bronisław Dzitkowski, and had three sons, Stefan, Ireneusz (Eric), and Krzysztof (Kris). When the boys were still young she took them back to the family farm to stay with their grandparents while she traveled to Chicago to look for better opportunities for her family. She then moved to Vienna with the intent to collect her children and bring them to the U.S., but when her oldest son Stefan tragically died in a bicycle accident, and she returned to the U.S. alone. Eventually her younger sons were able to join her in Chicago, where she started her own cleaning business. During these years she divorced the boys’ father still living in Poland and married Tadeusz Michalak in Chicago. When he died soon after she met Jacenty (Jacek) Rusniak, with whom she lived until his death in 2011.

In 1988 she purchased a motel near Elizabeth, Illinois, which her son Krzysztof managed for many years. She and the family visited on the weekends and helped with the motel business. In 2001 Kris moved to Dubuque and the business closed, but Janina returned often with the family on weekends to keep the place in repair. After Jacek’s death she retired from her work in Chicago and moved permanently to Elizabeth, where she lived until the weeks before her death, when she went to spend her final days at Kris’s home in Dubuque.

Janina was preceded in death by her parents, husbands, son Stefan, and infant daughter Krystyna. She is survived by siblings Edward and Stanisława; sons Ireneusz and Krzysztof; grandchildren Peter, Anita, Damian, Roksana, and Jessica; twelve great-grandchildren; and nieces, nephews, and other family members, many of whom still live in Poland.

The family wishes especially to thank Hospice of Dubuque for their exemplary care during Janina’s time in Dubuque. Memorials may be directed to Hospice of Dubuque at

Public visitation will be Saturday September 5, 9:00 am, at Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home, 8025 W Golf Road, Niles IL. Funeral services will follow there at 10:00, then internment at Maryhill Catholic Cemetery, 8600 N Milwaukee Ave, Niles.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, September 5th, 2020 | 9:00am - 10:00am
    Saturday, September 5th, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
    Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home
    8025 Golf Road
    Niles, Illinois
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, September 5th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Saturday, September 5th, 2020 10:00am
    Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home
    8025 Golf Road
    Niles, Ill
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Saturday, September 5th, 2020 |
    Saturday, September 5th, 2020
    Maryhill Cemetery
    Address Not Available


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