PARISH OF THE NEW ENGLAND DIOCESE OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
John Royce and Hedwig Rojcewicz
John Royce, 63, of Springfield, MA, died at his home on December 1, 2003. He was born in Worcester, MA, on September 29, 1940, the son of John and Hedwig Rojcewicz, and has been a resident of Springfield, MA, as well as Winchester, NH.
He was a former teacher at Thayer High School in Winchester, NH. He was a graduate of Worcester State College Class of 1966. He was a Navy veteran serving during the Vietnam Era. He was also a member of St. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church of Springfield, MA, and Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, Claremont, NH.
He left his cherished wife, Christine Royce of Tucson, AZ; 2 loving sons, Jonathan Royce of Tuscon, AZ, and Nicholas Royce of Sacramento, CA; 2 dear daughters, Joanna Royce-Davis of Sacramento, CA, and Veronica Schreiver of Elk Grove, CA; 6 dearest grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral was held at the Springfield Funeral Home, 130 Carew St., Thursday, December 4, 2003, followed by a service in Sts. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church. Burial in Notre Dame Cemetery, Worcester, MA. Visiting hours were on Wednesday evening, December 3, 2003. Donations were made to Sts. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church, Springfield, MA.
Hedwig Joan (Hedy) Rojcewicz was born in Sniatyn, Poland, in 1915, the daughter of George and Zaokopny (Dombrowski) Hubaczek, and lived many years in Worcester, Mass. before moving to Keene, NH, in 1981.
Her earliest memories were those of a refugee. She was born during WWI in the part of Poland controlled by Austria-Hungary and was still called by that name. The following year, 1916, Hedy's mother took her and her nine-month-old baby sister to Czechoslovakia to live for a while with a friend. Accompanying them was Hedy's grandmother, her father's mother.
They had to leave their home because Russian troops had entered their town, and it was too dangerous for a woman alone to stay in the war zone. Hedy's father, a building engineer, was off fighting in Kyiv.
Hedy's father was half Polish and half German since his mother was German. In fact, much German was spoken in their town because of the Austrian influence. For this reason, Hedy grew up speaking both Polish and German.
Hedy's baby sister and her grandmother died while they were in Czechoslovakia. To make things worse, when they returned, they found that their house had been badly damaged in the war. But something good also took place at the end of the war; in 1918, Poland received its independence and was called Poland again.
But another tragedy awaited Hedy's young mother. She got the notification that her husband had been killed in the war. She went off to Kyiv alone to try to find his grave. She never found it. Her husband had been only in his mid-30s when he died.
Because they had relatives in Romania, Hedy and her mother moved there next. She didn't remember Czechoslovakia much because she was too young but she remembered Romania with great pleasure. Hedy learned the language quickly and could understand and speak it. They stayed in Romania for a couple of years. They lived in Chernowitz, a beautiful city.
In 1921, after returning to Poland for the second time, Hedy and her mother stayed there until 1926. When she turned 10, they decided to travel again because they received an invitation from two uncles who lived in the United States.
They landed in New York and traveled immediately to Worcester, MA. Worcester. This town was to be Hedy's home all during her teenage years and her married life.
In 1930, Hedy's mother married an "old bachelor." He was Polish, 41, and worked in a factory. He had been conscripted into the imperial Russian army during WWI. He had subsequently been held prisoner in Japan.
Hedy's new stepfather was very strict with her work hours and house chores like washing dishes, washing the windows every two weeks, and other work around the house. She worked hard during her teenage years until she was married in her mid-20s. Despite all these, Hedy had many friends and active social life; she went dancing in the famous dance halls and swimming in the lakes around Worcester.
Hedy was a teenager and young woman during the depression when money and jobs were harder to get than at any time since. But she worked as a clerk in the store, a cashier in the restaurant, and a bookkeeper. She got herself nice clothes and always thought the fashions in 1938, 1939, and 1940 were the nicest and the most elegant.
Hedy and John Rojcewicz were married after an acquaintance of three years. John was born in 1913 and was two years older than Hedy.
Since John Rojcewwicz's father was in the restaurant business, Hedy joined her husband in running Jon's Waterfront Restaurant, doing everything again. She was a short-order cook, hostess, waitress, sweeper, bookkeeper, and on top of everything else, the manager.
Besides doing all that work in the restaurant, Hedy raised two sons, John Royce (with whose family she lived for the rest of her life and who later became also the HROC parishioner) and Robert. John had four children and Robert two. After Hedy's grandchildren grew up and married, Hedy had four great-grandchildren.
Mr. Rojcewicz, Hedy's husband, died in 1974, and her mother had died only two years earlier, in 1972. In 1980 Hedy joined the Orthodox Church in Springfield, VT, where she was chrismated by Fr. John Terrell. In 1983 she and her son's family came to Holy Resurrection Church in Claremont, NH, where they remained its active parishioners for many years, until John Royce and his family moved to Springfield, MA.
Hedwig, 80, died in Keen, NH, on January 21, 1995, and was buried in Notre Dame Cemetery, Worcester, MA.
Memory eternal to Hedy and John!