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On Saturday, November 12, 2022, the #AdventuresOfJennie, as her daughter, Monica so often wrote about, came to an end. Jennie, 96.5, was tucked into a comfy bed at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, with the sun shining on her face and music filling the room. There could not have been a better way to leave this earth!
We respectfully request that no one arrive at the funeral home prior to the posted visitation times, so as not to intrude on the family’s private time.
Family and friends are invited to the visitation in the Kowalski Funeral Home, 515 Roselle Street, Linden on Friday, November 18th. from 4:00-8:00PM. On Saturday, November 19th. at 9:45AM, everyone will gather directly at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Roman Catholic Church, Linden, where a funeral mass will be offered at 10:00AM. The prayers of committal will precede Jennie’s burial in the family plot in St. Gertrude Cemetery in Colonia, New Jersey.
Jennie, the daughter of the late Stefania (Stella) and Louis (Ludwig) Sokolowski, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Jennie lived in Scranton until her marriage in August of 1947 when she moved to Linden, New Jersey and then in March of 2019, settled in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
Jennie met the love of her life, John E. Kowalski, Jr. at a friend’s farm in Washington, New Jersey and a week later, John asked her to marry him. That was the beginning of a new chapter. Jennie worked for a few years in Standard Oil in Linden as a secretary, but then motherhood and John’s business enterprise intervened. In 1957, John built and opened the Kowalski Funeral Home at its current location.
Although not a licensed funeral director herself, Jennie was definitely John’s sidekick. She could often be found helping in the funeral home, doing paperwork, setting up flowers, greeting visitors at the door and becoming the cleaning lady when necessary. She did all of this while raising a family of four children with John.
Jennie loved to entertain and cook, especially for the holidays and when she knew her grandchildren were coming for a visit, Jennie made sure to have all their favorite treats on hand. Jennie was also deeply religious, attending church every Sunday at either St. Theresa of the Child Jesus R C Church or St. Elizabeth of Hungary R C Church, both in Linden. Jennie was a member of the St. Theresa’s Ladies Auxiliary, the Linden Knights of Columbus Council #2859 Ladies Auxiliary, the Linden Senior Men’s and Women’s Club and the Gregorio Center Lunch Bunch.
Little known to many, Jennie was a diehard sports fan. Anytime the New York Giants football team was marching across the field, or the Knicks were taking to the court, Jennie had the TV on to follow the game. However, her true love was New York Yankees baseball. One of her greatest thrills was when Monica and Chuck took her to a Yankee game, and she found herself sitting right over the dugout.
Jennie also loved to take Monica into New York to see the different Broadway shows and concerts. It astounds us to this day, that Jennie figured out how to take mass transit and get exactly where she needed to be. She was also a prolific reader and mostly enjoyed romance novels, especially Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, and Jude Deveraux. As her eyesight began to fail her, Jennie adapted to the use of audible books as well as music, without understanding the technology, except to be amazed by it. She really loved to listen to music of all genres from the Beatles to Andrea Bocelli. “Alexa” easily became her friend as Jennie was firmly convinced that she was talking to a real person who would play exactly the type of music she wanted to hear each day, especially when music would miraculously fill the room…usually at high volume.
Every day, Jennie would leave the house and walk to the Gregorio Center, where she would join her posse for lunch. Even though her legs were failing and her vision less than adequate, Jennie somehow got there. She loved to be outside walking and would often refuse her friend’s offer to take her home. In the summer Jennie would spend her time in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Every day held a walk on the boardwalk next to the ocean and an outing for lunch, whether it be at Nagles, The Starving Artist, Clancy’s or even the Burger King. Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and The Voice kept her entertained most evenings and Jennie would throw answers out for the game shows and then give her opinion as to whether a singing contestant was actually any good (or not). She certainly kept us entertained with her commentary. Throughout Jennie’s life, she was a fashionista - kept up with the latest trends in clothes and hairstyles and even in her 90’s took to wearing funky colored nail polish accompanied by her stylish jewelry.
However, Jennie’s greatest gift to all was her strength of will, determination and adaptability, especially when she had to enter assisted living and adjust from not being able to walk to learn how to maneuver in a wheelchair. Again, aging never held her back. Jennie still attended all the events, arts and crafts sessions and daily bingo, playing to win the big prize of chocolates. In fact, the activity bus at her new “home” only had room for 2 wheelchairs. So, Jennie (being Jennie!) made friends with the bus driver, who in turn made sure she got her place on the bus whenever and wherever they were going. She was always up for a good road trip.
Jennie constantly made friends, would talk to anyone and made sure to go on every outing and enjoy every minute, even if she couldn’t see or walk. In Jennie’s lifetime, she never uttered an unkind word about anyone, nor refused to help anyone that needed it. She would give you anything of hers, no special reason...just because. Nothing in life ever got her down, which is Jennie’s gift and legacy for all of us to treasure and emulate.
Jennie was predeceased by her husband John E. Kowalski, Jr, on July 1, 2000. She is survived by her two daughters, Terry Kowalski, Monica Kowalski-Lodato and her husband, Chuck (a.k.a. Julius); her two sons, Leo J. Kowalski and his wife, Beth and John L. Kowalski; her former daughter-in-law, Michele Selvanto-Kowalski and her five grandchildren, Karin Bandoian and her husband, Christopher, Kurt Kowalski and his wife, Adriane, Nicholas Kowalski and his girlfriend, Kaitlyn Murray, JohnRyan Kowalski and JohnJulius (JJ) Lodato and his girlfriend, Meriem Hamioui.
Jennie was the center of life for her family, and she had an abundance of love for everyone in her circle. She will be deeply missed, but never forgotten. As the song goes, Jennie was “simply the BEST!”