Named Czestawa (the Polish female version of Chester, pronounced Chestava) at birth by her parents, on her birth certificate it was written, Americanized, as Cecelia. Cecelia Eleanor Skorupski Cowles, 99, wife of the late John Henry Cowles, was born in Easthampton, MA, on March 30, 1922. She was the daughter of the late Eleanor Skrecz Skorupski and John Skorupski. She was the last survivor of her seven siblings. She had five brothers; Chester, Zbigniew, Stanley, Alphonse, and Edward Skorupski; and one sister, Stella Skorupski Raczka.
Cecelia grew up, had many friends and strong roots, in the small town she loved and lived in for most of her life, Forestville, CT. As the daughter of Polish immigrants, she learned to work hard, and when she attended kindergarten and learned to speak English, she became the reader and interpreter for her family. She went to St. Stanislaus School and, in1940, graduated summa cum laude from Bristol High School. Her guidance counselor advised her to attend Columbia University, but her family needed her at home to send care packages to her brothers who were serving in WWII. So instead, she commuted to Waterbury to attend and graduate from Post Comptometer (a key-driven mechanical calculator) School and then worked as a comptometrist for New Departure in Bristol until 1946.
During WWII, she was part of the local Civilian Defense Council, that coordinated programs for the protection of civilians during air raids and other emergencies. From the old, beautiful Bristol Post Office, she would lookout for potential air raids.
An important part of her life was being an active member of St. Matthew Church, in Forestville. As a teen, her Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) group and she, in memory of Father McDonald, put on three plays in the former church basement to raise money to buy the round stained glass window that hung above the organ loft of that church, but now hangs over the altar in the new church. Also, she taught catechism and was a longtime member of the Women’s Guild and Bible Study groups.
Cecelia was an avid reader and bridge player. Also, she volunteered at the Bristol Hospital and Dempsey Hospital, now the UCONN Health Center. After raising five children, she became a golfer, and, for many years, she was a member of the Chippanee Country Club in Bristol and the Connecticut Women’s Golf Association.
Her pride and her joy was raising five children, four sons and one daughter, and providing each with a college education. She was predeceased by her eldest sons, Christopher John Cowles and Mark Lawrence Cowles. Her surviving children are Clifford Michael Cowles of Carmel Valley, CA; Mary Ellen Cecelia Cowles of Chester, CT; John Henry Cowles, Jr. and his wife, Teresa Balinskas Cowles of Unionville, CT; and the late Christopher Cowles’ wife, Patricia Card Hartman of Stratford, CT. She was blessed with eight grandchildren, Christine Hartman, Sarah Elizabeth Messier, Kathryn Rose Mikulak, Brian Mark Cowles, Thomas Matthew Cowles, Christopher Nelson Bailey, Steven Nelson Bailey, and Alex Nelson Bailey, and four+ great-grandchildren, Alexis Shannon Hartman, Mikaylah Dean Hartman, Miles Philip Messier, Rose Elaine Messier, and on the way, Baby Boy Mikulak-Duffy.
Cecelia’s funeral will be held on Friday, June 4, 2021 beginning at 9:15 a.m. from O’Brien Funeral Home., 24 Lincoln Ave., Forestville/Bristol and will proceed to St. Matthew Church, 120 Church Ave., Forestville for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. Committal service and interment will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery, 522 Terryville Ave., Bristol. Calling hours will be held Thursday between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Face masks and social distancing will be necessary. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to be made to Cecelia’s favorite charity, Mercy Ships, PO Box 1930, Lindale, TX 75771 (www.mercyships.org). Your gift multiplies in impact to bring free life-changing surgery and improved healthcare to the world’s forgotten poor. To leave an online message of condolence, or to share a memory or photo, please visit Cecelia’s tribute page at OBrien-FuneralHome.com.
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PO Box 1930, Lindale TX 75771