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Obituary of Frances Teresa Strukus
Frances Teresa (Satagaj) Strukus January 2, 1934 - March 27, 2023 Frances Satagaj Strukus, also known as Fran or Frani, was born in Middlefield, Connecticut to John and Anna (Rys) Satagaj, the ninth of 11 children. She always considered herself lucky to be part of a large, Polish-American family. This circumstance shaped her world-view and her sense of community. She loved the bustle of many people, the sound of many voices, too many cooks in the kitchen, and the sharing, negotiating, compromising, and holding your own that comes from belonging to a big group. She loved her family and she loved being Polish. She attended Saint Mary’s parochial school, which was a legendary 2-mile walk from the family farm, and graduated from Middletown High School where she excelled in typing, stenography, business, softball, bowling, and basketball. In 1955 she realized her childhood dream of becoming a Woman Marine. Almost immediately after completing boot camp, she was chosen from the secretarial pool to be the secretary to General Wallace Greene. Frani spent her entire military career working directly for generals in California, Hawaii, Japan, and Washington, DC. She was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant E5. She was proud to serve her country, and made many life-long friends during her time in the military. It is hard to convey just how much she loved being a Women Marine and how important the Marine Corps was to her identity. In her later years, she regularly marched in the Winthrop and Deep River Memorial Day parades and participated in Veteran’s Day activities in the Deep River schools. Back in civilian life, her dear friends Nancy Bartosiak Glenn and Buddy Glenn introduced her to her beloved husband, Richard, at a dance. Frances and Richard danced together for many years while raising two children, Chris and Wanda, nurturing many dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, one guinea pig, one racoon, a pond-full of frogs and goldfish, and briefly, an escaped peacock. Frances also immersed herself in the life of her local community, participating in the PTA, volunteering at the school library, the VFW, the Deep River Fife and Drum Corps, and the Westbrook Fife and Drum Corps, and serving on the Christmas Bazaar committee of St. Joseph’s Church, where she was an active parishioner. She also served on the Deep River Beautification Committee, the Deep River Land Trust, The American Legion, and the Republican Town Committee, and then became the Deep River Registrar of Voters as well as a mentor at Chester Elementary School. In 2001 she was named the Deep River Rotary Club’s Citizen of the Year in recognition of her many contributions to the community that she loved so much. She balanced her active volunteer, community, and family life with a career as an office manager and bookkeeper, first for the Superintendent’s Office of School District 4 for many years and then joining the Wesleyan University Financial Aid Office, from which she retired. In her retirement she and her husband enjoyed traveling throughout the country. The onset of Alzheimer’s curtailed her volunteer work, but when she learned she was ill, she elected to participate in an Alzheimer’s study at Yale, hoping that she could contribute to a cure for people in the future. She spent the last years of her life in the care of the kind nurses, CNAs, aides, and staff at Chestelm Health and Rehabilitation Center, with support from Middlesex Health Hospice and her husband, Richard. She leaves behind her loving family: her husband, Richard, her children, Chris and Wanda (and partner Rob Kilburn), her brother Ted and his wife, Ann, her brother-in-law Ron, many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and many cherished friends and neighbors. Frances loved to sing and dance. She loved to write and was a legendary letter-writer. She loved riding her bike and did so until she was 80. She expressed her creativity through ceramics, wild gardening, baking, and epic cake decorating. She was an enthusiastic and grateful participant in her time on earth and if she were with us now, we believe she would say that she had a wonderful life. Visitation for Frances will be on Friday, March 31st, from 9-11am at the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home, 34 Main Street in Centerbrook, CT. A Funeral Mass will follow at 11:30am at Saint Joseph’s Church 48 Middlesex Avenue in Chester, CT. The rendering of Military Honors will follow the Mass on the grounds of the church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Valley Shore Animal Welfare League at https://www.valleyshoreanimalwelfareleague.org/donate, to the Friends of Hammonasset at https://hammonasset.org/donate or to the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter at https://www.alz.org/ct.
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Friday, March 31, 2023
Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home
34 Main Street
Centerbrook, Connecticut, United States