Olga Rose Gurak, née Varga, passed away peacefully at her home in Hopewell Township, NJ, on November 23, 2019, surrounded by her loving family. Rose was one of seven children born to immigrant parents Josef and Florence Varga (née Bogodan). She was predeceased by her husband Kasimer and her siblings Joe, Julius, Bobby, Margie, and Goldie. She is survived by her younger brother Albert Varga and his wife Kathy, who reside in Baltimore, MD, as well as by her son Raymond and his wife Mary Ellen of Hopewell Township, together with her younger son Ken and his wife Sharon of Stockton, NJ, in addition to her adult grandchildren Alexander, Rosemary and Christine.
Born on January 8, 1924, in Perth Amboy NJ, she spent her early years there, and later moved with her family to Passaic, NJ, before the start of WWII. In 1946, she married Kasimer Gurak, who had recently been discharged from the United States Army, having served with Bronze Star valor as a member of the 10th Mountain Division in northern Italy in 1945. In 1952, they moved to Hawthorne, NJ from Passaic, where Rose spent the next 37 years of her life. After the passing of her husband in 1963, she was employed by the Hawthorne School District until her retirement as secretary to the high school principal. In 1989, Rose left Hawthorne to move with her son Raymond and his wife to Hopewell Township, where she lived the remainder of her life as a principal caregiver to her grandchildren, Alexander and Rosemary.
Rose was a consummate homemaker, an aspiration she nurtured since her own childhood in Perth Amboy through her graduation from high school. As both a mother and a grandmother, she worked tirelessly to ensure that her offspring were raised healthy, industrious and polite. She was always closely involved in the daily lives of her grandchildren Alexander and Rosemary. She cooked their favorite meals and taught them the joy of reading. She made sure that they did their homework and took them to various events and programs that enriched their lives, including preschool and swimming lessons at the Princeton Y. Whenever her grandchildren got sick, she tended to them like a mother hen. Skilled with a needle and thread, Rose was always looking for clothing to mend. Rose sought to instill in her children and grandchildren the virtues that she followed her entire life, namely honesty, loyalty, hard work, and above all, caring for others.
For many years, Rose enjoyed following professional football, especially her favorite teams, the Steelers, Raiders and Ravens. She read several newspapers every day to follow current events and enjoyed debating political issues with her brother Albert during years of correspondence. Rose also liked to read popular novels that involved mysteries and old-fashioned romances. Always on the hunt for a good bargain, she was a frequent and friendly customer at many local shops and eateries in the Hopewell and Pennington area, especially Pennington Market and Orlando’s Cafe.
Road trips with family were an especially favorite pastime for Rose. She was very fond of the beach and liked to stand near the surf, letting the water wash over her feet while pondering the horizon. Closer to home, she liked to accompany her grandchildren on day trips to local parks and nature preserves.
Rose could be plain-spoken, ready to speak up and defend her extended family. Yet having been raised in an immigrant family with limited means during the Great Depression, she was always concerned for those less fortunate than herself. She made donations to many charities, especially to St. Joseph’s Indian School, as well as various children’s hospitals and cancer centers.
The testament for Rose reveals that she was the anchor of the Gurak family for more than 70 years. She is no longer here with us in the mortal world. Yet all that Rose was as a person, wife, mother, grandmother and friend, will together always live on in our hearts and memories of her, for all of the Gurak family generations to come.