Amelia Millicent Pulczinski, 97, of Duluth, Minnesota, entered eternal life on November 18, 2011. Amelia, and her identical twin, Emelia, were a “Halloween treat” born to Adam and Wanda Sikorski, October 31, 1914. The girls grew up with their five brothers and two sisters on a farm in Greenbush, Minnesota. Often dressing alike, the twins enjoyed swapping identities and fooling fellow classmates, teachers, and friends.
Amelia graduated in the class of 1932 as valedictorian from Greenbush Public Schools. She then attended Bemidji Teachers College and received her teaching certificate the following year. Amelia began teaching at the Juneberry Rural School in 1933. Teaching all 8 grades in this one-room schoolhouse, Amelia was teacher, janitor, and sometimes cook. In the winter, she rode cross-country to school by horse and sleigh, relying many times on her trusty horse, Jessie, to guide her home during a winter storm.
Amelia married the love of her life, Peter Pulczinski, on November 14, 1934. Peter and Amelia began farming, raising a family, and Amelia continued teaching until 1940, when increased war production needs and additions to the family necessitated her attention. In 1942, Peter and Amelia received an agricultural award for their farm production contributions during WW II. That same year they purchased the Peter’s father’s homestead; and farmed there, an additional 25 years, until Peter died in 1967.
Shortly after the birth of her 9th child, Amelia attended summer school annually at Bemidji Teachers College to pursue her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Graduating from Bemidji in the summer of 1957, Amelia began teaching sixth grade in the Greenbush Public Schools. During her teaching career in Greenbush, Amelia taught many of her nieces and nephews, who fondly referred to her as “Auntie A.” Also actively involved in the teachers’ education association, Amelia served as union president from 1958 to 1967.
As a devout Catholic all of her life, Amelia was an active member of many churches in the areas she lived. Blessed Sacrament in Greenbush, serving as St. Anne’s Sodality President for many years; St. Margaret Mary in Morgan Park, Duluth; St. Rose Church in Proctor; and St. Raphael’s Parish in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout the years, she enjoyed socializing with her many beloved “church family” friends, attending daily mass regularly, and serving meals at many church dinners. Amelia suffered many hardships throughout her life including the death of her mother when Amelia was fifteen, the financial loss of her parents’ farm during the Depression, the loss of her husband at a young age, as well as the deaths of 4 children at birth. Her faith in God and positive outlook on life despite adversity, provided her much strength and courage.
When Peter died in 1967, Amelia applied for a National Science Foundation Scholarship at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She received the award and came to Duluth to study, completing her masters degree in math and science in 1968. Amelia began teaching in the Proctor Public Schools, first at Munger and then Pike Lake Elementary, until her retirement in 1979. Amelia lived in Morgan Park and then Bayview Heights in Duluth, until she retired to Phoenix for a healthier climate for her rheumatoid arthritis. She lived in Phoenix from 1988 until 2001, when she returned to Duluth to live at St. Ann’s, the Garden House, and Spirit Valley Assisted Living.
Although her “official” teaching career spanned over 40 years, in reality the world was her classroom where she continued to teach but also to learn life’s lessons – wherever she traveled and lived. Amelia’s sociable nature brought out the best in others as she befriended many from all walks of life. This saying exemplified her philosophy of others: There are no such things as strangers – just friends we haven’t met yet.
Throughout Amelia’s retired years, her continued love of nature and gardening provided her with many happy hours planting, weeding, and harvesting her flower and vegetable gardens. She was a tremendous believer in environmental preservation which included conserving, composting, recycling, and avoiding the littering of the land. Although in later years, dementia claimed most of her memories, Amelia still enjoyed a walk in nature or riding in the car to “look at the trees.” Her humility and appreciation of the simple pleasures and kindnesses shown to her, made her joyful company – indeed a ray of sunshine. Amelia appreciated the love and visits, cards, and letters from family, friends, students and acquaintances.
Amelia was preceded in death by her parents, 5 children including her daughter, Carol Navarro, in 2003; her husband, Peter, as well as many brothers, sisters, and in-laws including Julia Sikorski, Albin (Pearl) Sikorski, Emil (Marge) Sikorski, Stanley (Victoria) Sikorski, Emelia (Alex) Gonshorowski, John (Marie) Sikorski, Henry Sikorski, and Glen Erickson. Also, Sally Pulczinski, Delphine (John) Mishalak, Victoria (Dan) Kukowski, Joanne (Mike) Phillips, Nick (Sophie) Pulczinski, Vincent (Frances) Pulczinski, Paul (Agnes) Pulczinski, Florence (John) Gonshorowski, John Pulczinski, Theresa (Harry) McDonald, and Albin (Mary) Pulczinski.
Amelia is survived by 4 children – her son, Conrad of St. Paul, MN; and daughters, Wanda (Bernie) Dallum of Alexandria, MN; Ann (Charles) Witthoft of Prescott Valley, AZ; and Kathy (Rick) Nelson of Duluth, MN. Also, 6 grandchildren – Bernie (Amy) Dallum of Grand Forks, ND; Denise (Jon) Highum of El Cajon, CA; Kevin (Debbie) Dallum, of Alexandria, MN; John (Tina) Dallum of Ramsey, MN; Lisa (Joel) Greer of Peoria, AZ; and Krista (Ryan) Blomquist of Hermantown, MN. And 22 great-grandchildren – Tyler and Olivia Highum, Courtney, Alecia, Nicholas, Zachary, Brianna, Maria and Michael Dallum; Levi and Peter Dallum; Andrew, Katie, Kayla, Kylie, Jacob, Rylan, and Brayden Dallum; Brittany and Cory Greer; and Noah and Autumn Blomquist.
Amelia is also survived by her sister, Irene Erickson; and her sister-in-law, Violet Sikorski, both of Greenbush; as well as 56 nieces and nephews – among them numerous god-children.
A celebration of life service for Amelia will be held in Duluth, on Sunday, November 27th.
Funeral arrangements are made through Collins Funeral Home of Greenbush, MN,
On Tuesday, November 29th, a visitation and prayer service will be held at 6 p.m. Amelia’s funeral mass will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush on November 30th at 11a.m. Following the funeral mass, Amelia will be laid to rest, in the Greenbush Cemetery, next to Peter.