Janet E. Gwazda (nee Dickson), formerly from East Chicago, Indiana, passed away Monday, September 23, 2019. Janet was born February 19,1928 in Belleville, Yell County, Arkansas on a farm owned by her parents, Wilbur D. Dickson and Eula B. Oates Dickson, the youngest of 6 children. She shared fond memories of her life there and was popular with her classmates who called her “Jitter”.
Janet went on to attend Arkansas Agricultural and Mechanical College (home of the “Bollweevils”) and graduated in 1950 with a degree in Business Administration. This was at a time when few women earned college degrees. She became a teacher and it was during this time that she met the love of her life, Walter Gwazda, who was in Arkansas on a short term business project. They quickly fell in love and were married at the local funeral parlor by the visiting Catholic priest. She relocated to East Chicago with Walter’s large Polish family, where she was warmly embraced.
After resettling in Highland IN, Janet became a Catholic Charities foster mother to a large number of babies throughout the years. She was active at Our Lady of Grace and St. James Catholic Churches. Janet was an avid reader and bingo player. She worked for over 25 years at Sears both in Indiana and in Mesa, Arizona after Walter’s retirement. Her loving, kind and easygoing personality won her many friends. Janet enjoyed road trips across country with Walter, being with her family, swimming, and bicycle riding. She even dubbed herself “queen of the road”. She was always available to help others and was especially known for her famous peach pies. Janet was caretaker for her husband for several difficult years before his death.
After her husband’s passing, she returned to stay with her sister-in-law and best friend, Wanda Onesko. The fun-loving pair loved visiting the casino, going to the buffets, “boy watching”, going to church and traveling down memory lane.
Janet was loving mother of Karen (Scott) Smith and Daniel; mother-in-law of Peggy Laduke, grandmother of Tracy Terrell, Crystal Smith, Tyler Laduke, and Nicole Cabello; as well as a great-grandmother. She had many nieces and nephews: Michelle Onesko Wiethe, Peter Wiethe, Greg and Lori Onesko, Michael Onesko, Ray and Bernadette Onesko, all of Indiana; Paul and Ginger Gast of Virginia; Bob and Elisha Dickson, David and Jan Laster, Margaret Laster Fleming, and Ronald and Ginger Laster, all of Arkansas; Peggy Dickson McFerran of Missouri; Patricia Dickson Grenelsh, Jeannie Dickson Sterling & Peter Sterling and Pat & Dee horn, and Andy & Diane Horn, all of California.
Janet was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Walter Gerald Gwazda; her parents; her brothers, Robert, David, and W.P. Dickson; and her sisters, Elizabeth Horn and Martha Laster.
Service times are pending at Holy Trinity Church, 4700, Carey Street in East Chicago, IN. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City, Illinois.