Ed Buryn, Vagabond

Obituary for My Mom
March 15, 2008, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Obituary for Mom


Mrs. Josephine Solecka Buryn died March 6th 2008 in Miami FL at the age of 100-1/2 years. She was born September 24th 1907 in Benton IL to Polish parents.

She is survived by her sons Edward Buryn of Nevada City CA, Henry Buryn of Bonifay FL, and Ted Buryn of Santa Cruz CA; by her daughter Jane Buryn McDade of Biscayne Park FL; by her grandsons Jake Buryn of Warrenton OR, Joey Buryn of Bonifay FL, Gregory McDade of Birmingham AL, and Kazimir Buryn of Oakland CA; by her granddaughters Sierra Buryn of Portland OR, Casimira Greer Buryn Kneebone of Hollywood CA, Kristin Buryn Parsons of Parker CO, Kelli Buryn of Birmingham AL, Sya Buryn Kedzior of Lexington KY, China Buryn of Laguna Beach CA, Nikita Buryn of Santa Cruz CA, and Jessica McDade Ianniello of Birmingham AL; and by her great-grandchildren Tiffany Buryn, Jay Buryn, Adam Buryn Parsons, Gage McDade Ianniello, and Simone-Rose Buryn Souza. She was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Kazimierz Buryn of North Miami FL in 1983, her grandson Stephen Buryn of Bonifay FL in 1995, her son Lester Buryn of Birmingham AL in 2004, and her granddaughter Jan Buryn McCarthy of Nevada City CA in 2005.

Think of it! More than a century of life! Josephine was was born in the early days of the electric light, the telephone, the automobile, and the airplane. In 1907, the year of her birth, transatlantic radio first began and Oklahoma became the 46th state. Gene Autry, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, and Frida Kahlo were born the same year, and all of them died years earlier. Her life spanned almost the entire 20th Century, and crossed into the Third Millennium. The span of her life is arguably the most exciting and eventful period of human history and she experienced it all as an active and righteous participant.

Josephine was born in America into a Polish family who returned to Poland when she was two years old. She grew up in the small farming village of Straszydle in the southern hills of Poland near Rzeszow, where her father was a horse trader. Her earliest family job was to rise before dawn to pick wild mushrooms in the forest when she was five. When she turned 18 she spent a year in Lvov, Ukraine, working as a nanny. But because she was an American citizen by birth, Josephine grew up knowing she would someday claim her citizenship, and so she came by ship from Gydnia to New York in 1930 when she was 23.

She arrived with few funds and no knowledge of the English language, only the names of some Polish friends. On her first night in America she was forced to sleeplessly walk the early-AM streets of Manhattan because her friends were late and the boat terminal had closed. Her early life in this strange native land at the start of the 1930’s Depression was a difficult time marked by exhaustion and privation. Her first job was as a live-in housekeeper-cook-nanny to a family of seven, working twelve hours per day, six days per week, for $5 plus room and board. She recalled crying herself to sleep every night during her first year in America.

At about that time, Kazimierz Buryn, a young Polish vagabond who had earlier emigrated to New Jersey after a series of careers in Poland including soldier, miner, lumberjack, gang leader, and roustabout, learned through the immigrant grapevine that Josephine was living nearby. They were both from the same village and had known each other slightly there, but he was five years older and had left the village while she was young. At the time of their meeting again in America, Kazimierz was an apprentice baker who had worked his way up from busboy and kitchen helper. He began courting Josephine and they were married in 1932 — the rest is history– family history, that is.

They saved enough money to buy a small bakery in Union City NJ with an apartment in the rear where their first sons Eddie (1934) and Lester (1937) were born. Later they moved to Perth Amboy NJ to start their very successful Majestic Bakery on Smith Street near Five Corners, and bought two homes. Their third son Henry (1940) and only daughter Jane (1943) were born in Perth Amboy. Josephine worked full-time in the bakery as store manager and counterperson, while Kazimierz created European-style baked goods with a staff that later included Josephine’s brother Henryk Solecki, who immigrated to America with his Polish wife Stella. After WW2, Kazimierz and Josephine sold their New Jersey properties and moved to Miami Beach FL where they purchased the Southern Sands Apartments on the corner of Byron and 81st Streets, located on Indian Creek, three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. Here their last son Ted (Thaddeus) was born in 1950. All of Josephine’s children were born at home and all were breast-fed.

Their Miami Beach property was intended to be their retirement dream home, but Kazimierz was an inveterate entrepreneur who dabbled in several other careers and was at times a building contractor, furniture store owner, and real estate investor. Some of these ventures foundered disastrously and for awhile in the late 1940s, Kazimierz had to work as a day laborer to keep the family financially afloat. Then he again went into the bakery business, founding the New Majestic Bakery in Little River Florida, a suburb of Miami, which became an outstanding financial success. At one point in the 1950’s, they owned three bakeries in the Miami area. In the late 1960s and early 1970s they traveled several times to Poland to renew old family ties and revisit the land of their youth. They retired from business in the 1970s, sold the apartment house and moved to a large home on several acres in North Miami. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by remarrying in 1980.

Kazimierz died in 1983 from complications of a stroke, following years of illness during which all of his children took time off from their own families in order to help Josephine with his care. After his death, Josephine lived another 25 years alone, and never even considered remarrying. In her last ten years, she lived with various of her children in turn, alternately in Florida, Alabama, and California. Until the end of her long life she remained vital and vivacious, energetic and active. At the end, her wits had left her but not her awareness and presence.

Josephine Buryn was a remarkable woman who devoted her entire life to working and caring for her husband and children. She practiced and taught filial love by demonstration and generosity. She never spared her time, energy, or funds to help her family. The widespread and growing Buryn clan that she procreated is a variegated and colorful American family committed to righteous living following her example. Josephine Buryn was a storybook heroine who empowered her children by giving them freedom, respect, and love without limit. She was also a beautiful and graceful woman, optimistic and friendly, honest and authentic.

Requiescat in Pace —
to our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, colleague, and all-around, on-the-job goddess.


March 6th 2008 — Josephine Rises

A new Angel ascended to heaven today
After a century’s tenure on Planet Earth
Serving as Polish-American Super-mom
Who loved five children and just one man
With such allegiance and steadfastness that
She became our icon of Devotion to Family.

Josephine Solecka Buryn now has risen,
But those who knew this resilient lady
Happily prize their memories of her
Through all “the ten thousand things,”
For she managed the soft art of love
By repeated effort through a long life.

Unschooled and famously stubborn,
Undaunted by heaven or hell itself,
Josephine was no saint, just a woman
Who unyieldingly fought and labored
To better her life and free her family
From want, from rejection, from fear.

Just like in her favorite Polish prayer,
Her Angel self watches over us here –.
“Aniele Bozy, strozu moj, [On-yow buh-zhi, stroh-zhoo moo-ee,
Ty zawsze przy mnie stoj”; [Tih zahv-sheh psheem-nyeh stoo-ee]
“God’s Angel, guardian mine,
You stand by me all the time.”