Life Story / Obituary
Through unwavering faith, her positive demeanor and love of family, Colleen Suminski lived a rich and rewarding life. Nothing brought her greater joy than being surrounded by those she loved. Although she had her share of heartache, Colleen was a woman of strength who held fast to her convictions, and her compassion knew no bounds. Colleen was a hard worker, and together with her beloved husband, they created a beautiful life for the boys entrusted to their care. A woman whose faith and loving heart shone bright in all she did, Colleen will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
Colleen’s story began on a typical, Minnesota winter day in 1926. Exciting times in the U.S., it was the heyday of the Roaring Twenties, when Big Bands were king, and Prohibition was law of the land. Major U.S. manufacturers were implementing the beginning of the eight hour, five day work week, and factory towns were flourishing. Yet for Mathias and Anne (McMahon) Lies of St. Cloud, MN the New Year of 1926 brought unparalleled joy when they celebrated the birth of their little girl, Colleen Anne on January 25th.
One of four children, young Colleen loved playing with her siblings, Tom, Pat, and Ruth. They enjoyed adventures along the banks of the Mississippi River in their hometown of St. Cloud where Colleen held fond memories. Colleen’s father worked in sales while her mother worked as a registered nurse. Her father’s work landed him in Milwaukee, and for a time Colleen, along with her mother and siblings, lived with her Aunt Delphene and Uncle Ray before packing up and moving to Milwaukee to join her father there.
It was through sheer faith and strength of heart that Colleen’s mother was able to raise her children as a single mother when after a short time of arriving in Milwaukee, Colleen’s father left the family. Times were often a struggle, especially during the Great Depression, but as a family they remained close and worked together. Colleen attended the local schools, and after a time began living in a convent where she studied to become a Benedictine Nun. Realizing becoming a nun was not her calling in life, Colleen began attending Lincoln High School from where she eventually graduated.
After high school, Colleen followed in her mother’s footsteps and studied nursing. She first started out her career in nursing as a pediatric nurse, but when she discovered she had an allergy to the hospital issued soap, she returned to school at Marquette University, becoming a psychiatric nurse. For the next 30 years of her career, Colleen worked at the Zablocki Veteran’s Hospital in Milwaukee. In fact, over time she received a promotion, making her the head nurse of two psychiatric units there. A key organizer for the nurses’ union at the hospital, it was clear to see how dedicated she was to her profession. Colleen loved nursing and found her ability to help others to be very rewarding.
Colleen’s life was forever changed one St. Patrick’s Day while celebrating at Hooligans with her sister, Ruth. It was there where Colleen met the love of her life, Jerry Suminski. After dating for a time and they fell deeply in love. Colleen and Jerry shared vows of marriage on August 28, 1954 at Holy Rosary Church on Milwaukee’s east side. Together with family and friends, they enjoyed a wonderful reception at Hubbard’s Lodge.
While Jerry worked as a postal clerk and Colleen continued her nursing career, they soon began a family of their own. Colleen happily gave birth to their first son, David in 1955, but by the age of two, Colleen’s sweet little boy was diagnosed with leukemia. Sadly, young David passed away in November of 1957. Although Colleen experienced much heartache through this time, she was overjoyed to have the blessing of four additional sons. Michael came along in 1957, followed by Joseph in 1959. Daniel was born in 1960, and Timothy completed their family in 1965. Together they raised their boys in St. Francis where they bought a home.
Family was the very core of Colleen and Jerry’s hearts. Over the years they enjoyed many travels with their kids, including a camping trip with a pop-up camper out west to South Dakota and Wyoming. There were also many day trips to Army Lake, Pewaukee Lake and Lake Michigan. Colleen would pack a huge lunch, and after Jerry rented a boat, they fished, swam and played the day away. As a family looked they looked forward to annual family reunions held in both Milwaukee and Little Falls. It was a wonderful life for each of them, especially their boys who treasure memories of these times.
Colleen put up a hard front in a house full of men. None of them, including her husband, Jerry, could get away with violating her rules of the house. And Colleen was sure to have stern consequences for anyone who did! Besides working and tending to her household, in Colleen’s younger years she served as a volunteer at St. Paul’s Grade School in their lunch program, and at their church for fundraisers and charity events. Holidays were special times for Colleen, but anything that brought family and friends together to celebrate made her heart glad. Front and center, Colleen always made sure it was a special event to remember. Whether Christmas, Easter, a birthday, wedding or baptism, she lovingly spent time in the kitchen making sure a good time and a full stomach was had by all.
The weddings of her boys and the births of Colleen’s nine grandchildren were most certainly the highlights of her life. One of her favorite things to do was care for her grandchildren. In them she found great joy while cuddling, talking to and playing with them. She babysat them at every opportunity, always making herself available. She also loved attending their many sporting and school events.
Colleen also loved to crochet. Through the years she created hundreds of blankets, scarves, shawls and various other items she often gave as gifts, or donated. She recently began making prayer shawls, one after another, until she could no longer focus on the work. Colleen was also known to have a bit of luck at the casinos. She enjoyed outings to the casino with her sons, who were a little less lucky than their mother!
A woman of tremendous faith, Colleen spent a great deal of time praying the Rosary and attending daily Mass at Villa St. Francis where she lived the last years of her life after her beloved Jerry passed away. While there she made many friends, and even had a standing appointment to play a game called, “Cover All” which she loved. A staunch Packers fan, Colleen easily rooted for them during every game, although occasionally she’d have issues with the referee’s “vision problems.” Every Packer Sunday was celebrated with Mass followed by anxious anticipation waiting for the game to start. She also enjoyed watching the Brewers, but with not quite as much passion as she had for her beloved Packers.
Colleen Suminski was a woman who celebrated life each and every day through her love, humor, compassion and faith. Rarely could one find her without a cheerful comment or her positive, guiding advice for anyone who asked. Even in her final weeks, she never complained. A testament to Colleen’s faith, her joy and fine example could always be seen through her ever present smile. Deeply missed, her family will miss the goodness and love that held her family together.
Colleen Anne Suminski, (nee Lies) passed away on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at the age of 89. She was the cherished wife of the late Jerome A. Suminski; loving mother of the late David Michael, Michael (Jeanne), Joseph (Claire), Daniel (Karen), Timothy; loving grandma to Anne, Jamy Beth, Jerome, Molly, Erin, David, Sean, Mark, and Patrick. Sister of the late Ruth, the late Tom (the late Dolores), the late Patrick (Mary). She is further survived by brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews other relatives and friends. Thank you to Sister Barbara, clergy, staff and residents of Villa St. Francis for your loving care of our mother.
Visitation at the Niemann/Suminski Funeral Home, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Sunday, July 19, 2015 from 4-8 PM and at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 1720 E. Norwich Ave. Monday, July 20, 2015 from 9:00 AM until the time of the Funeral Mass at 10:00 AM. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. To share a favorite memory or photo of Colleen and to sign her online guest book, please visit www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com.