Albena 'Bena' Josephine BuczynskiAlbena "Bena" Josephine Buczynski, 99, of Cloquet, Minn, passed peacefully on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, at Golden Oaks Advanced Assisted Living Plus in Proctor, Minn. Bena was a life-long resident of Carlton County, born Feb. 11, 1913, into one of the earliest pioneering families in Split Rock Township.
Albena "Bena" Josephine Buczynski, 99, of Cloquet, Minn, passed peacefully on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, at Golden Oaks Advanced Assisted Living Plus in Proctor, Minn. Bena was a life-long resident of Carlton County, born Feb. 11, 1913, into one of the earliest pioneering families in Split Rock Township. Her parents, Leon and Elizabeth (Patrick) Sobolewski, homesteaded near the Kettle River/Automba area in the late 1800s, carving out a life for themselves while raising eight children, Bena being number six. Bena was just 5 years old when the tragic Moose Lake/Cloquet 1918 fire ravaged the area. The Arne Juusola and Leon Sobolewski families, deciding they could not outrun the raging firestorm, took refuge in a dry well in an open field on the Sobolewski farm. Fourteen people crammed into a four-foot-by-four-foot-by-18-foot-deep space, spread vertically on a wooden ladder, with jars of water and little food. Bena remembers instructions yelled by the elders for everyone to slap out any sparks that blasted in under the wet canvas tarp from the hot, howling winds. They all survived the long night but lost everything except the clothes on their backs. The Sobolewskis were able to live with relatives in West Duluth until they could rebuild once again. After many years, the railroads finally settled their debt to the fire victims; however, many victims lost their settlements in bank failures that followed. According to the Moose Lake Depot and Fires of 1918 Museum, Bena was one of the last of four living survivors of that fire. When Bena was in her teens, she couldn't wait to break into the work force and make her own way, being both energetic and resourceful, and firmly believing the teachings of her parents that good hard work brought its own rewards. Bena worked in The Moose Lake Hotel, and then went to work at Diamond Match (now Jarden Home Brands) in Cloquet for a number of years. She met Joseph Buczynski, a first class welder at Northwest Paper Company (now Sappi) and married June 25, 1936, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, the very same church her grandfather, father, and brothers helped build in Split Rock Township. Joe and Bena made Cloquet their home, purchasing their first land, "The Old Grunek Place," a mile south of town on the "Old Carlton Road" (14th Street next to the soccer fields). A few years later they sold that property and purchased the adjacent 80 acres, "The Old Whitman Farm" where they resided until Joe passed away in 1974. The city acquired a few acres of that property along John Road for "JoeBena Park," later known as "Buczynski Park" and finally "Hilltop Park." Bena was an extremely giving person known for her cooking, crafts, fishing prowess, love of the outdoors, and trying new things. An accomplished global traveler, Bena visited Alaska, Italy, The Vatican, Ireland, and the South Pacific, among others. She enjoyed her family immensely. Bena was a life-long member of St. Casimir's, (now Queen of Peace Catholic Church), and a member of St. Casimir's Guild and the Rosary Society.
The last of her family, Bena was preceded in death by her parents and all of her siblings: brothers, Leo, Henry and Anton; and sisters Anna, Mary, Lottie and Martha; and one son Jerome.
Bena will always be lovingly remembered by her son, John (Wendy) Buczynski of Superior, Wis., and her daughter, Darlene (Lyle) Anderson of Milaca, Minn.; grandchildren, Cheryl (David) Egge of Champlin, Minn., Michael (Beth) Buczynski of Mequon, Wis., Rebecca Buczynski of Superior, Neil Erickson of Cloquet, and Jay Erickson of Grand Forks, N.D.; great-grandchildren, Devin and Brandon Egge, Emily and Quinn Buczynski, and many nieces and nephews.
Special and appreciative thanks to the management, nurses and staff of Golden Oaks Advanced Assisted Living Plus for all their tremendous kindnesses to Bena over the last few years, Essentia Health-St. Mary's Hospice Services.
Visitation will be held Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Cloquet. Interment will be at New Calvary Cemetery, followed by a luncheon in the church social hall.
The family has selected Nelson Funeral Care of Cloquet to assist them with arrangements. See the family online guest book at www.nelsonfuneralcare.net.
November 15, 2012 ~ Pine Journal, Cloquet, Minn.