Ursula Kocemba-Slosky, 68, died on Saturday, January 14, 2012.
Born Urszula Marianna Kocemba in Bielsko-Bia?a, Poland, she immigrated to the United States from then-communist Poland in 1974. Her mother Anna (Herrmann) Kocemba, whose family originated from Salzburg, Austria, was a schoolteacher. Her father Franciszek Kocemba was a locally prominent businessman whose candy and confectionary company in Bielsko-Bia?a remained in business until recently.
Following her father’s untimely death, she joined a convent with the intention of becoming a nun, but left to pursue college studies in biochemistry. At the entrance exam for the University of Warsaw’s biochemistry program, she met her future husband Jack (then Jacek). She went on to receive a PhD in medical microbiology from the Warsaw Medical Academy, and married her college sweetheart Jack in 1968. Ursula and Jack celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary this past August.
After completing their doctorates, Ursula and Jack accepted an offer to do postdoctoral work at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, MA. Upon arriving to the United States, they defected. They were able to stay in the United States until 1977, at which point they moved to tropical Brazil and worked as professors at the Federal University of Paraíba in the city of João Pessoa. In 1979, they were able to return from Brazil to the United States, and in 1984 were both very proud to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Ursula gave birth to a daughter, Cypriana, in 1977, and two sons, Sebastian and Justin, in 1980 and 1981. Ursula ended her research career to become a full-time homemaker and take care of her children. Sebastian died in 1989 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. Ursula was happy to see Cypriana and Justin grow up healthy, and be able to pursue their dreams.
Ursula went back to her work as a professor part-time for several years, teaching microbiology to future nurses at Becker College in Worcester. Until recently, she had worked as a Polish language interpreter at UMass Hospital in Worcester.
Ursula was a brilliant woman with a very wide range of interests and passions. She loved literature (Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and Jane Austen’s novels were always her favorites), operas (especially La Traviata and La Bohème) and BBC shows (she watched and re-watched every single episode of “Are You Being Served?” and “Keeping Up Appearances”). Ursula deeply loved the arts and encouraged this love of the arts in her children. Thanks to Ursula’s encouragement, her daughter Cypriana has now for 12 years been a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (the official chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops). Also Ursula’s son Justin completed in 2011 a master’s degree in film directing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and plans to be a filmmaker and writer.
Ursula was an avid gardener, she enjoyed traveling, and was well-known for her epic feasts prepared for family and friends where seemingly endless platters of delicious food kept coming out of the kitchen to everyone’s delight. She had a sharp, zany sense of humor, and people loved listening to her wonderful stories. Later in life she started writing, and wrote a book and over a hundred poems (in English). Ursula deeply loved nature, and she even became a “tree farmer” by, for the past 25+ years, converting (together with her husband Jack) clear-cut land in central New Hampshire into a beautiful, officially-recognized Tree Farm. The most recent new joy in Ursula’s life was her granddaughter Julia, who was born in 2009 and whose spunky, happy presence filled Ursula with unbelievable joy. Ursula could not stop talking about how amazing Julia is and how much she loves her.
Ursula will be best remembered for her radiant personal warmth and for her unshakeable courage. She was a woman who cared deeply about all the many people in her life that she loved, and always made it very clear to them how very much she loved them. She made no compromises and never gave anyone anything but the very best of herself. Many, many people loved Ursula, since she touched so many people’s lives in such a profound way.
We mourn our loss of Ursula with the hardest of hearts, but we feel truly blessed to have been part of Ursula’s life.
Ursula Kocemba-Slosky is predeceased by her sisters Lydia and Jadwiga. She is survived by her husband Jack; her daughter Cypriana and son Justin; her granddaughter Julia; her special niece Sonia, and her brother Henryk (both of Bielsko-Bia?a, Poland).
Ursula will be buried in the family grave at the Lovell Lake Cemetery in Wakefield, NH. A semi-private funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 18 at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 40 Hidden Springs Road, Alton/Wolfeboro, NH.
A memorial mass in Ursula’s honor will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 28 at St. Mary’s Parish, 16 Summer Street, Shrewsbury, MA, with reception to follow. Everyone who knew and loved Ursula is warmly invited to attend.