Chester Ratajewicz, 85, of Cambridge Springs, PA passed away Friday morning, October 30, 2009, after a brief illness. He was born to the late Lt. Colonel Kladian Ratajewicz and his wife, Stanislana, on April 24, 1924 in Russia. He spent his young childhood with his family and extended family in Russia and in Poland. After the beginning of WWII, he, together with his mother, sister and other family members, moved throughout areas of Russia, Poland, and Germany for survival reasons. His mother was able to keep them together and alive throughout the war by moving them with the German front, often living in work camps. As a result of these movements, he spoke fluent Polish, Russian, and German.
He had a personal knowledge of how family, friends, acquaintances, and those he did not know, met the challenges they encountered to survive in Europe during WWII. His last work station was as an electrician in a train yard in Germany.
In 1950, Chester was sponsored by the Polish National Alliance to come to the United States. He arrived by boat in New York City on March 3, 1950 and after processing, immediately traveled by train to Cambridge Springs, PA. He began employment upon his arrival as a furnace tender/electrician at the former Alliance College. After settling into the community, he gained sponsorship for the remainder of his family – his mother; sister – Lucy and her husband, Leon Rymaszwski, and a niece to move from Germany to the United States as well. He worked for Alliance College and the Bartlett Apartments until he became employed by his late friend, Bob Stine, at Modern Radio. He became well known locally as a knowledgeable and honest electrician and television repairman. As part of his employment he helped develop and start the area’s first cable television company. Chester continued to work for Modern Radio after the death of Mr. Stine and remained with them until his retirement. After retirement, as a hobby, he continued to repair televisions and other electronics. The business closed in 1999.
Chester loved to share his life experiences with his friends. His recollection of his life during WWII was filled with intimate details of how people were treated. He loved life?????s simple pleasures, time spent with family and friends, and picnics with his mother. He also enjoyed time spent with his niece as she was growing up, trolleys, train rides, and even a beautiful view. He liked to recall his early days in Cambridge Springs and how the town was busy with tourists and businesses. He loved animals, especially cats. He kept company with many cats in his lifetime and treated each one with the same love and care that a person would a child. He had many houseplants and prided himself with his large quantity of Christmas Cactus that bloomed often. He liked to watch wresling, old movies, and old sitcoms on television. He watched the weather and news constantly to keep up with world events. He had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed making people laugh as much as he liked to laugh himself.
He was preceded in death by his older brother who died at a young age from a head injury, his father and mother; a sister and a brother in law – Lucyna and Leon Rymaszwski. He is survived by his niece – Izabella and her husband, Ronald Brodt of Lewisville, TX; his great niece -Monica Johnston, and her children, Aiden and Dylan; his great nephew and God son – Ronald Brodt and his fianc???, Samantha, and son, Deklan. He is also survived by his long time friend – Wanda Pilarczyk, of Cambridge Springs; his friends – Debbie and KC Foy and their daughter, Becky, of Edinboro and his neighbors Bobbi and Mike Rice and family.
Friends may call at the Van Matre Family Funeral Home in Cambridge Springs, PA on Monday from 2-4 PM and 7-9 p.m. Services will be held there at 11:00 on Tuesday with the burial to follow at Venango Cemetery. For those who would chose to send a remembrance donation, please consider the ANNA Shelter, an animal rescue facility, 1555 E. 10th St., Erie, PA.