Janina Filip, 93, of New Britain, CT died peacefully surrounded by family Wednesday, January 6, 2021. She leaves behind an incredible legacy of strength and perseverance. Born in 1927 in Chicopee, Massachusetts as Janina Pawlik, she immigrated to rural Poland at the age of three with her mother and two sisters Anna and Alicia. Janina and her family survived the 1939 Nazi invasion and occupation of Poland during WWII when the family was forced out of their homes and found shelter in the surrounding forest for months. At the age of 12 she was responsible for gathering food for her family and narrowly escaped death many times. She then survived the subsequent invasion of the Soviet Army. In 1945 she married Stefan Filip, the love of her life, and immigrated West to the newly claimed Polish land (formerly Germany). She became one of the first settlers in a new Polish village called Chrzastawa Wielka. True to her generous spirit, Janina lent her hand-sewn silk wedding dress to all of the women in the village for their own weddings. In Chrzastawa, she and her husband ran a successful farming business and had 11 children together, six daughters (Danuta, Halina, Teresa, Zdzislawa, Elzbieta, Malgorzata) and five sons (Wladyslaw, Zdzislaw, Jan, Jozef, Marian). Unfortunately Janina’s daughter Halina died after a few short months of life. In 1982 Janina also tragically lost her husband to lung cancer but continued running the family business on her own. In the late 1980s, Janina at the age of 62 traveled back to the United States, the country of her birth motivated by her own curiosity and the premature birth of her youngest daughter Malgorzata’s first child. She settled into New Britain, CT and helped her daughter raise an additional three children during the day and worked a second shift job at night. She remained fiercely independent living in New Britain, CT from 1989 to the end of 2020.
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Janina will be remembered for her unwavering optimism. She often comforted others with positivity and genuine compassion. She was also a woman that embraced the changing world with grace, despite being raised in a different time and different place. Janina was a fervent reader and had a genuine curiosity to learn everything she could about topics that interested her. Janina loved tending to her flower garden at her New Britain home and enjoyed taking long walks both in her neighborhood and while visiting family.
Janina had the uncanny ability to relate and talk to everyone, from all walks of life and backgrounds. She made everyone she met feel special and cared for. Janina could always be counted on to be the last person to leave a party and loved to people-watch and soak in the fun being had, despite not speaking or understanding English.
Janina is survived by five daughters, five sons-in-laws, three sons, and two daughters-in-law. She leaves behind 23 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren across Poland, Germany and the United States with an additional two great grandchildren on the way. Janina was predeceased by her two sisters, a husband, one daughter, as well as two sons and a grandson.
Janina was an inspiration to not only her immediate family but also to the people who met her and her family. She leaves behind a remarkable legacy of a life lived happily despite war, death and personal loss. Janina sincerely believed that life is beautiful despite its many unforeseen challenges and that tomorrow will always be better than today.
The family of Janina would like to thank the staff at the Critical Care Center at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute, Jefferson Radiology, Angel Touch Care and Hartford HealthCare at Home Hospice for all of the care provided to keep our mother and grandmother happy, healthy, and comfortable, even during her last days.
Calling hours will be held for Janina Filip on Monday, January 11, 2021 from 5:00-8:00 pm at the Paul A. Shaker Funeral Home, 764 Farmington Ave., New Britain, CT. A burial will take place in Poland at a later date when it is safe to travel. The family of Janina requests that instead of black attire visiting guests wear bright colors to honor and celebrate her life. To extend condolences to Janina’s family or to share a memory of Janina, please visit SHAKERFUNERALHOME.COM