Helen Mary “Marie” Wicka, age 88 died peacefully July 14, 2020 in Escondido, CA. Marie was born Sept. 12, 1931 in Trempealeau, WI to Daniel D. and Cecelia T. (Napientek) Eichman. She lived in Trempealeau until age 7 when her family moved to Winona, MN. Marie attended St. Joseph’s grade school, graduating from Cathedral High School with the ‘49ers. On Aug. 30, 1952 she married Eugene R. “Gene” Wicka at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church officiated by her uncle, Fr. Dominic Eichman. February 1953 Gene and Marie moved to San Diego, CA where 5 of their 6 children were born. In 1966 the family moved back to Winona until 1981 when Gene, Marie and their youngest MN born son, Brian, returned to California, settling in Escondido, CA.
Marie’s work career, like many, started at a young age. She and older brother Bud picked strawberries for the Langowski Farm at the edge of Winona. Her junior high years she worked at both St. Teresa and St. Mary Colleges after school and during summers in housekeeping and the kitchen. During high school she worked at Stevenson’s and J.C. Penney’s in downtown Winona. After high school Marie became a nurse aid in Rochester, MN at Colonial Hospital, then adventured one summer to Yellowstone Park, WY to work in housekeeping. Returning to Winona, she worked again at Stevenson’s as manager of the sportswear department until moving with Gene to California in 1953.
In San Diego she clerked at the Naval Base Commissary. Later Marie worked as a telephone operator until her first child, Don, was born. Thus, began her best, and we believe, her most challenging vocation as Mom. Returning to Winona in 1966, as the children got older, she took on the roles of Den Mother, Real Estate Agent, and office manager at Gene’s business.
When Marie returned to California in 1981, she was bookkeeper for a small business, was a Watkin’s sales rep., and helped others as a home health care aide. She enjoyed collecting mugs, antiques and travelling. The most memorable trips were to visit Jurgen Wicka and his family in Germany, camping with family and good friends Vic and Tootie Anderson, cruising the Panama Canal, Alaska, and the upper Mississippi River. Her California backyard garden of citrus and nut trees, roses, and vegetables gave her great pleasure. Marie was a proud and she says “stubborn” Kashubian Pole who could always keep a conversation going. Keeping in touch with relatives and friends, sharing their news, was a priority with her. She made a great pot roast and chocolate chip cookies. Marie was a long-time member of Catholic Daughters and The Winona Polish Museum. She enjoyed the Moose and Elk Lodge memberships with her husband.
She is survived by her children, Donald (Margo Kennedy), San Diego; Marilyn (Tom) Ezdon, Dakota, MN; Jeffrey (Doreen), San Marcos, CA; David (Sookie), Escondido, CA; Shelley Wicka, San Marcos, CA; Brian (Tammy), Lakeside, CA;. Grandchildren Krysten, Nathan, Brandon, Kyle, Kaylee, Jake, and Serafina; 2 step-grandchildren Aryanna Spinks and Erin Ezdon, a great grandson due in October; many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Her husband Gene (d.2019), parents and brother Donald “Bud” Eichman (d. 1946) preceded her in death.
A private service will be held in the future at St. Marks Roman Catholic Church, San Marcos, CA, with burial at San Marcos Cemetery. Funeral arrangements by Allen Brothers Mortuary, San Marcos, CA. (www.allenbrothersmortuary.com)
Memorials can be directed to the Winona Polish Cultural Institute & Museum, 102 Liberty St., Winona, MN 55987
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