BOZENNA URBANOWICZ GILBRIDE
Bozenna (Urbanowicz) Gilbride was born in Wolyn, Poland in 1934. As a young girl she lived under Communism and later in 1943 she and her family were deported to Germany for slave labor. Her mother Janina (Los) Urbanowicz was arrested there and sent to Ravensbrueck Concentration Camp, later to Buchenwald and Flossenburg Concentration Camp during a Death March. After the war Bozenna’s father Wiktor Urbanowicz and the four children: Bozenna, Czeslaw, Irene, and Krystna came to America in 1947. Bozenna attended St. Stanislaus Kostika Polish School in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where she soon joined the Blessed Virgin Mary Sodality. She graduated from Straubenmuller Textile H.S. in New York City where she majored in fashion design/draping and sewing. She worked several different jobs to help her father support the family.
In 1957 she married Richard V. Gilbride. Several months later, her mother was granted a Visa by the Polish Communist government to immigrate to America.
Bozenna and Richard have four children: Richard Thomas, Timothy, Stephen and Christine. She soon realized that in America no one knew about the Polish people of the Holocaust. She was told that only Jews were victims of the Holocaust. In 1989 she began to travel to schools, universities, organizations in U.S. and abroad, telling her own family history and that of the Polish people.
In 1993 Bozenna spearheaded a drive to raise funds to place a monument to ZEGOTA, the Polish Underground Organization that helped Polish Jews during WWII. In 1995 the monument was placed at the old Warsaw ghetto site. For her efforts the Polish chapter of the Righteous Gentiles presented her with the Honorary Righteous Gentile medal. She received three medals from the Polish government for her dedication to the Polish people, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an award from Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and numerous Citations and Certificates.
She was recognized by the New York State Board of Education, Regents Dept. as an outstanding teacher on the Holocaust.
She donated Oral History videos of Polish Catholic Holocaust survivors and many artifacts of Catholic concentration camp victims to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She gave generously to Polish people in need, always anonymously. She served on the Board of Catholic League, Long Island Chapter, and was a member of the Polish American Museum in Port Washington, N.Y., member Kosciusko Foundation, Polish American Congress/Holocaust Documentation Committee, former member National Polish American-Jewish American Council, American Polish Council, Polish Institute of Arts and Science, and Pilsudski Institute where she donated all the copies of Holocaust Testimonies by Polish Catholic Holocaust survivors.
Bozenna Urbanowicz Gilbride was the associate producer of the educational documentary film; “ZEGOTA, Council for Aid to Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-1945.” She was the co-author with Inge Auerbacher, of a book “Children of Terror” describing her ordeal as a Polish Catholic Holocaust survivor. In 2011 a Polish version as “Przerwane Dziencinstwo” (Interrupted Childhood) was published in Poland. The book was also translated into German as “Verlorene Kindheit” (Lost Childhood) published in early 2012. A documentary film was made by Rider University, New Jersey about their longtime friendship and collaboration on the book. In 2017 she authored a second book “Waiting for Mama”, about her mother who survived concentration camps in Germany and later imprisonment by the Communists in Poland. She and her family lived in Garden City, L.I. for thirty years and later in 1997 retired to Southampton, Long Island. She leaves husband Richard Gilbride, her four children: Richard Thomas and wife Doreen and son Richard J., son Timothy and wife Maria, son Stephen and wife Antonia and children Gregory and wife Sierra and Trevor, a daughter Christine Wilson and husband Rob, and sister Irene Galluscio.
Visitation will take place at the O’Connell-Rothwell Funeral Home located at 30 Little Plains Road in Southampton, NY on Friday, March 13 at 2:00 -4:00 PM and 7:00-9:00 PM. Mass will be Saturday, March 14th at 9:00 AM at Our Lady of Poland RC Church, 35 Maple Street, Southampton, NY. Followed by burial at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, NY.
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