Katharine Praczkajlo, née Michalak, known to loved ones as Kathy, was an all-around family woman who was devoted to keeping family close, and accepting others into her circle. Her daughter’s friends would often call her “Mama P,” because she cared for them as if they were her own. Many students at the school where she worked saw her as a trusted friend. She always knew how to bring people together, and especially enjoyed helping organize the annual family reunion of the Michalak and Kozminski descendants. Her pride in her Polish-American heritage led her to visit Poland and form lasting friendships with Old Country relatives.
Kathy and her late husband, Jeffrey, met while he was playing trumpet at a family wedding. Kathy was working as a consumer counselor at M&T Bank, and Jeff was an engineer at Derrick Corporation. The two got chatting and the rest is history. They dated for some years, then spent ten years of marriage together before his passing in 2000. Kathy was a devoted mother to their only child, Jennifer, and made sure she had many opportunities to excel in life. When Jennifer was younger, Kathy was involved in her success with the swim team at Willow Bend at Hamburg, taking times for lanes and occasionally prepping the starting gun. She made many costumes for Jen's dance team events.
Kathy was thrilled to be a new grandmother. Lily Rae Jump was born to Jennifer and Shawn Jump on October 8, 2021, in South Carolina. So Kathy got to spend Zoom time inspecting and loving baby Lily for the first month of her life.
Throughout the years Kathy and Jennifer made annual trips together; Jennifer remembers especially a Mediterranean cruise, followed by two weeks in France. While Kathy was a stay-at-home mother when Jennifer was younger, she began her longtime career with the Hamburg Central Schools in about 1995 when Jennifer started school. Kathy began as a cafeteria monitor and soon worked her way up to teacher’s aide and personal aide. She also taught Religious Education at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Boston, NY, for more than a decade. Kathy was honored to be part of the first generation of laywomen to act as a Eucharistic Minister and Catholic lector there.
Kathy was a multi-talented and dedicated craftster. Knitting, crocheting, and patchwork quilts were longtime favorites, but spinning, oil painting, metalwork, and others all had their turn. Nearly every Friday night, she could be found cheering on the gifted musicians of Jazz Example at the Anchor Bar (including her late cousin, bassist Greg Piontek), many of whom remained her devoted friends.
Her public service roles were many. She was on the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Boston, NY for 20 years, eventually as Chair. She was part of the revival of the Historical Society of Boston, NY, and for many years its President, with Jen as VP. Each year she designed a themed history exhibit for the Erie County Fair. She helped organize Civil War reenactments with the Hamburg Middle School. She was a Girl Scouts troop leader; she and her daughter were lifetime members. Her main reading group was at her school, but her breakfast club in Springville featured reading and knitting as well as breakfast. She enjoyed attending the reunions of her father’s WWII ship, the Appalachian, and one final year she single-handedly organized a special Appalachian reunion in Buffalo to give him a last hurrah. In a typical Kathy touch, it included a trip to the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museum.
She was always on the go and getting involved with different projects, though relaxed and laid-back through it all.
If heaven is a beach, Kathy is settled in a hammock getting a tan, with a Stella Artois in one hand and a good book in the other...but with a committee meeting scheduled for later. She will be sorely missed by all whose lives she touched with her warmth, enthusiasm, and drive to help others.
PRACZKAJLO - Katharine E. (nee Michalak) Passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. Arrangements in the care of LAKESIDE MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME, INC., 4199 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg, NY 14075, 716-627-2919. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to the Boston Historical Society. Online donations and condolences shared at www.LakesideFuneralHome.com.
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