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Elizabeth M. Rygiel

October 18, 1921 - September 2, 2019

Service Date September 7, 2019

Funeral Services honoring Betty’s life will be held on Saturday, September 7, 2019.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, 4816 7th Ave.  Interment will follow in St. Casimir Cemetery.  A visitation will be held on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until the time of the Mass at the church.

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Elizabeth M. “Betty” Rygiel, age 97 of Kenosha, passed away peacefully at Brookdale Kenosha on Monday, September 2, 2019.

Born in Kenosha on October 18, 1921, Betty was the daughter of Polish immigrant parents, the late Onufry and Marya (nee Tralka) Ruszel from the Rzeszow area of southeast Poland.  A lifelong Kenosha resident, Betty attended the former St. Casimir Catholic Elementary School through 8th grade and graduated from Kenosha High School in 1940.

On June 2, 1945 Betty married her beloved “Polish Prince,” Kenosha resident Edward Rygiel, at the former St. Casimir Catholic Church in Kenosha.  They enjoyed 57 wonderful years together until his death on December 13, 2002.

She had been employed in the bookstore and business office at Gateway Technical College since 1940 when it was called Kenosha Vocational School, retiring in 1981.  She had also been employed part time in the business office at Kenosha Boiler Works on Washington Road and 13th Avenue.  After her retirement, she worked for a short time as an interpreter in the Kenosha County Court system because of her ability to read, write and speak fluently in both Polish and English.

Betty was a current member of St. Elizabeth Catholic Parish and a past member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the former St. Casimir Parishes.  At St. Casimir, she was the first woman to hold office on the parish committee, serving as treasurer.  Other memberships included the Catholic Women’s Club, St. Mary’s Lutheran Friendly Center, Red Hat Ladies, Kenosha Senior Center, Kenosha/Bradford High School Class of 1940 Reunion group and the Polish Roman Catholic Union.  Betty and Eddie had been active volunteers at the former St. Catherine’s Hospital, Shalom Center, Meals on Wheels and various parish activities.

Betty’s lifelong interests were travel, gardening and family history.  Although she traveled throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico and Europe, her most memorable trips were two visits to Poland in about 1985 where Betty and Ed met Lech Walesa and visited the living families and villages of their ancestors.  Betty’s most treasured souvenir was a handful of dirt from her father’s yard in Palikowka.  In 2003, Betty traveled to Wellington, New Zealand and enjoyed a memorable six weeks there, traveling both islands with her son Jim and his family.

She was a very artistic person who had a green thumb and a keen eye for color, proportion, fashion and beauty.  She dabbled in many crafts and art forms including ceramics, painting, sewing, millinery and poetry to name a few.  She especially enjoyed crocheting and won a blue ribbon at the Kenosha County Fair for her Granny Squares afghan.  She was happiest while celebrating holidays and special events with her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Late in her life Betty came to love and thoroughly enjoy the visits, snuggles and kisses of her little, white, furry great granddog, George, who she called “Poopsie.”

Surviving Betty are one brother, Rev. Henry Ruszel C.R. of Apple Valley California; two children, Jim (Theresa Ellis) Rygiel of Los Angeles and Rosanne Rygiel of Kenosha; five grandchildren, Angela and Ben Bodven, Rita (Michael) Stam, Sara and Jackson Rygiel; and two great grandchildren, Philip and Madeline.  She was a loving Aunt Betty to five nieces and nephews; and twelve great-nieces and nephews.

Besides her parents and husband, Betty was preceded in death by two brothers, Rev Humphrey Ruszel, C.R., in 2011 and Tadeusz Ruszel in 1923; one son Philip in 1966; two brothers-in-law and two sisters-in-law; one niece; and one great-niece in 2019.

The family wishes to extend our thanks to the entire staff of Brookdale Kenosha and Hospice Alliance, Inc. for their consistently kind, loving care of Betty. 

Also, a special thank you is extended to those who worked closely with Betty and her family during the last week of her life.  The staff from Brookdale includes: Jodi RN, Terri R RN, Liz, Loretta, Shamiyah, Kali, Kiana, Terri G, Richard, Cheyenne, Dominique and Shelley and from Hospice Alliance, Inc. includes Chaplain Charlie, JoAnn L. RN, JoAnn B. LCSW, Heidi MT-BC, Sally, Becca and Nicole.