Janet and Frank Krabec met at Chicago’s Trianon Ballroom and were married in 1960. She was 39 and he was 42. “We had a good life together,” said Mrs. Krabec of their 27-year marriage. And they fox-trotted and waltzed through many of those years. Now 90 years old, Mrs. Krabec has been a dedicated donor to cancer research at Loyola, fulfilling Frank’s wishes to use some of their resources to fight the disease that claimed his life and those of his mother, father and only brother.
Together, they decided that cancer research at Loyola would be their charitable focus, and Mrs. Krabec’s generosity has resulted in generous annual gifts over the last 25 years. She also has made provisions in her estate plan to continue this charitable work.
The youngest of six girls, Mrs. Krabec grew up in the Roseland neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, speaking Polish at home with her immigrant parents and attending St. Salomea School and Fenger High School. Her mother, a homemaker, and her father, a laborer at the Pullman Car Co., were devout people who centered family life on parish activities. “We went through tough times, but we didn’t know it,” said Mrs. Krabec, who was a teenager during the worst years of the Depression. She recalled having to rely on a neighbor’s charity after her father was injured by a car and until her eldest sister could finagle her way (at 14 years old) into a stenographer’s job to support the family—which she did for 30 years.
She herself spent much of her married life working as a secretary for a large South Side commercial upholstery firm until Frank convinced her to join him after he retired from his position as general manger at Duo-Fast, a commercial fastener firm. When he wasn’t golfing, they loved to travel together from their Cicero home to many continental U.S. states, as well as to Costa Rica, Hawaii, Poland and Czechoslovakia. “The nuns taught us Polish, so that came in handy,” she said of her trips to Europe.
Today, although she attends only an occasional dance, Mrs. Krabec continues to be active, driving herself to church, appointments and lunch with friends from the south-suburban home that she and a sister purchased together after Frank’s death. She keeps it immaculate, a skill no doubt learned from her mother, who, she noted, faithfully washed, stretched and starched the white curtains of their two-flat twice each month. Frank’s clocks, photos of her sisters, her watercolors, family mementos and an oil portrait of she and Frank bicycling in the woods hold places of honor in her home. Talking about her good health, ability to give back and her friendly neighbors, she said simply, “I have it good.”
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