Helen Wilma Bendzak
Photo Gallery and Biography
Helen Wilma Bendzak was born on May 21, 1918, the second of seven children to Stefan and Veronica (Jauk) Vlahovich. She passed away Dec. 8, 2009.
Helen’s parents moved to the coalfields of Ronald from Croatia. She left school at an early age to help her mother in the home. Her family of eight shared their home with her father’s two brothers who, like her father, mined for coal in the Ronald area.
From her mother she quickly learned the art of cooking and baking various ethnic foods from old country recipes. She thrived in her mother’s kitchen and found her niche in life – a love for cooking and entertaining her family and friends.
In 1936, she married Albert Bendzak and the couple settled in Ronald, close to Helen’s family. Albert understood Helen’s passion for cooking, baking and entertaining family, and it wasn’t long before she had the kitchen of her dreams.
Three children were born to this union followed by many grandchildren. All loved to go to grandma’s house, as they knew they were in for treats and goodies. Friends and neighbors who stopped by to visit always had to sample the pavitica or pigs in a blanket, or some of the other baked foods from Helen’s kitchen. There were no strangers in Helen’s kitchen, only friends, and they all had to eat something.
The grandchildren were “scheduled” for vacations at grandma’s house and there was always a project for them to work on. They learned Croatian words and phrases, how to sew and make blouses or dresses, and of course how to bake or cook. Then there was grandma’s advice, “always be good, God is watching you!” In the small community where grandma lived there was always something to do and you could count on a frequent friendly visit from nearby relatives and friends – and always cookies and treats.
Helen found her passion in life while helping her mother so many years ago. She fulfilled her dreams in the daily life she lived, and through the family she loved.
Helen was a life-long resident of Ronald and a past member of the Alter [sic] Society and Choir of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Roslyn.
Helen is preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 68 years, Albert Bendzak; brothers: Steve, Andrew and William Vlahovich and one sister Vera Lowatchie. She is survived by her daughter Arlene (Richard) Watts; sons: Braven (Colleen) and Tiran (Darlene); and brothers George and John Vlahovich; 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
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