On Monday, December 20, 2021 age 95. Wife of the late Thaddeus “Ted” Sienicki. Loving mother of Robert (Sheila) Sienicki and Donna (John) Mitchell. Sister of the late Mary Bunker, Irene Mirisciotti, Jack and Anthony Previte. Grandmother of Kathryn (Richard) Mucci, Fran Sienicki, and Jacqueline and Emily Mitchell. Great-grandmother of Vera and Bianca Mucci. Sister-in-law of Leonard (Loretta) Szafranski, Edward (Marlene) Sienicki, Richard Sienicki, Stella (Kenneth) Szafranski, Raymond Henke, and the late Walter, Joseph, Stanley, John, and Leo Sienicki, Anna Siepiela, Marion Mazur, Jane Popivchak, Stephanie Henke, and Lottie Sienicki. Also survived by many generations of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the SZAFRANSKI-EBERLEIN FUNERAL HOME, INC. Private immediate family visitation only. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Our Lady of Grace Church on Tuesday, December 28, 2021 at 10 am. Sarah will be laid to rest next to her husband, Ted, in St. Ignatius Cemetery. Burial is private.
Sarah’s family requests masks to be worn during visitation and funeral mass.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Sarah's name to:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Pl.
Memphis, TN 38105
This is a tribute to Sarah Catherine Previte Sienicki. My Mom.
A sweet, caring, loving soul who was unwavering in her faith. Wise, supportive…fiercely loyal. Hard working and humble…but always proud. She could take on the role of teacher and share knowledge…but was just as eager to be the student and learn. At times, quiet and pensive. At others, opinionated, unpredictable and rather outspoken. Her uniqueness stemmed from the fact that she could be all of these things…all at once.
At 95 years of age, she taught us—by example—how to be a loving spouse, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and daughter. She was extremely devoted to her family and close friends…and part of her legacy is that she maintained rich, enduring relationships for years on end. Like her dear friend Pat Hungerman. And her beloved niece Diane. Time and time again, they bridged the gap between being cheerleaders and caregivers. She held them both so close to her heart…and they did the same.
I remember some pretty wonderful things about her when I was a kid. Like waking up on weekend mornings to the aroma of warm cinnamon-walnut coffee cake. Or really feeling proud of the fact that she had volunteered at our school for hot dog days. Or her tucking me into bed with the scent of the camelia corsages that she’d wear to weddings and on special occasions like Easter.
I also remember some pretty wonderful things about her when she was older. Like her determination to pay back every single cent that we were required to itemize for groceries and trivial things like stamps from the post office. Her devotion to the Blessed Mother and the rosary. Her rabid interest in the daily lives of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Even her struggles in the past few months were somewhat inspirational…really trying to overcome physical limitations like the true champion that she was.
She was and always will be a Siciliana—the daughter of Pietro Previte and Alberta Bongiovanni. When she married Dad, she was comfortable being the first Italian to be embraced by his large, loving, boisterous Polish family. She really was very proud to be a Sienicki…and she understood the right way to welcome new family members into the fold and make them feel comfortable.
She was beloved by her nieces, nephews and neighbors. My cousin JD fondly remembers her frying up salmon patties and countless dinners at Fatigatti’s with Mom, Dad, my sweet Uncle Joe and Aunt Sophie. My friend from grade school recalls that she was the first person he ever met who listened to country music, that she was always working in the kitchen…and always happy. He also said that he and his brothers could hear Mom sneeze from four doors away! (I think I inherited that trait!)
Of course, the center of her life—her anchor and North Star--was my Dad. 70 years of marriage! A keystone to their faith and love came from this parish, which they joined when they were young parents. As a family, we were here the night the bishop christened this church. We celebrated First Communions, weddings, golden anniversaries and over 65 years of Easters and Christmases at Our Lady of Grace. So it’s truly fitting that both of my parents’ funerals have now taken place here, too.
Outside of the church, Mom and Dad were just Sarah and Lefty. I’ve said this many time before, but somehow they always found ways to complement each other. When Dad grew that abundant garden, Mom started to can vegetables.
And when 90-year old Dad squinted to read with his “scope”, Mom became his eyes. She would nonchalantly mention a news item about the Pirates to compensate for his failing vision…or tell him in her own discreet way what was on the restaurant menu…like observing “Hmmm…I didn’t know their chicken romano came with a choice of pasta or Italian vegetables. And it’s only $12.95!”
This brings us to the topic of food. And the kitchen. Mom’s sacred turf. No tribute to this woman could be complete without singing the praises of her scorching hot peppers…her ethereal swiss chard patties…her cavalcade of Christmas cookies that marched to the beat of pecan trissies, Russian tortes and Polish tea cakes. She explored, then conquered, “The Joys of Jell-O”…and sliced her veal cutlets with the precision of a surgeon.
Unfortunately, none of us have ever been able to duplicate these recipes exactly. I have a funny feeling that one of two secret details might have—somehow—been left out when they were handed over by Mom. Still, Donna tells me that one of her sweetest memories during the past couple of years has been bringing Mom’s favorite dishes to her and having her critique and add technical advice as she tasted them so that D could eventually get them just right. The two of them have always shared the most treasured kind of mother-daughter relationship. Trusting each other implicitly. For years, Donna has worked so hard to honor my Mom’s wishes to stay in her own home. And this was only made possible by the loving support of my wonderful brother John.
In taking the liberty of speaking for all of us here this morning and also for those who are gone, I want to say that we’ve all been so blessed to have had her touch our hearts for the past 95 years. That’s a lot of living—and a lot of love!
To sum it up, for the past week, many people have expressed their sympathy by saying “I know the holidays must be a terrible time of year to lose your mother.” Well the truth is, I didn’t lose my Mom at Christmas…rather, I continue to find her! I sense her presence everywhere. In the stockings, on her little tree, in the countless traditions she instilled…in the outpouring of warmth and affection that have flooded over our family. I appreciate her now more than ever…and I thank her for all she has given me.
Finally, here’s something that I want to share. In these unprecedented times of uncertainty that we’ve all been going through, an occasion like this becomes an especially difficult ordeal. But through this, I’ve learned that grief and sorrow still demand to be witnessed. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for coming here today to honor my Mom and, most importantly, thank you for respecting our wishes to protect the health of our family and friends. Please remain careful and stay safe. My mom would have wanted that!