Zofia K Laszewski
September 26, 1922 – May 27, 2018
Nashville, TN – Zofia K. Łaszewski died peacefully on May 27, 2018 at Abe’s Garden surrounded by her three daughters.
Dr. Łaszewski was born in Lwów, Poland on September 26, 1922. She was the daughter of Zofia Aniela Kinel and Zygmunt Kinel.
WWII had a profound effect on Zofia’s life. Shortly after the outbreak of war in September 1939, Zofia’s father, who was an architect in the city government, was arrested by the newly installed Russian government in eastern Poland and was never seen again.
On April 13, 1940, one month short of finishing her secondary education at Cecylia Plater-Zyberk School for Girls in Warsaw, Zofia, her mother, and younger brother Jacek were deported by the Stalinist Russian regime to Siberia by cattle train.
Zofia and her family endured harsh conditions for the next two and a half years making bricks in a forced labor camp in Semipalatinsk near Mongolia.
In August 1942, Zofia and her mother were liberated from Siberia. They joined the Women’s Auxiliary Service established by General Władysław Anders and made their way to a camp in Persia (known today as Iran). Her brother preceded them to England and enlisted in the Polish division of the Royal Air Force. Zofia and her mother boarded an English destroyer with many other refugees to make their way to England. In order to avoid the war raging in the Mediterranean Sea, they sailed around the southern tip of Africa. The ship was torpedoed by a U-Boat in the middle of the night off the coast of Sierra Leone. Although they were on separate lifeboats, they reunited when a Canadian troopship rescued them.
Once in England, Zofia’s mother settled in London and survived the V-1 and V-2 bombings. Sadly, in 1944, brother Jacek was killed in a training exercise accident when piloting a Miles Martinet I. He was nineteen and is buried at Pembrey in Wales.
While attending Aberdeen Medical School in Scotland, Zofia met Bolesław Tadeusz Łaszewski in London and they married on September 13, 1947. She graduated in 1950. Her first daughter Barbara was born in London in 1949 and the family immigrated to the US arriving in New York Harbor on July 4, 1951. They lived in Plainfield, NJ where Zofia completed her year of internship before settling in New York City where she trained in the emerging field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the Dean Rusk Institute at NYU. Her daughters, Marzena and Dorothy, were born in 1957 and 1959.
Zofia had a long career practicing medicine in New York City as chief of her division at Lenox Hill Hospital, Saint Barnabas Hospital, House of Giles for Crippled Children, New York Polyclinic Medical Center, Saint Agnes Hospital, and The Jewish Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Jersey City, NJ. She also had a private practice on the Upper West Side of Manhattan from 1969 to 1976.
During her training and career, her devoted mother was always by her side caring for the growing family until her death in 1977.
After her two younger daughters left to attend college in Boston, Zofia relocated to Providence, RI where she was chief of PM&R at the VA Hospital from 1976 until her retirement in 1996. During her tenure at the VA, she was also a clinical professor at Brown University and served in the Army Reserves for two decades, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After retirement, she pursued her many interests including preventive medicine, functional medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, and chelation therapy.
In 2005 she relocated to Rocky Mount, NC to be near her granddaughters Sophie and Emily. In 2008, as her health declined, she moved to an assisted living facility near her eldest daughter in Nashville, TN.
During her prolific career, she was the recipient of numerous awards including Woman of the Year United Cerebral Palsy 1968 and Hands and Heart VA-Max Cleland 1988.
She was a true pioneer, practicing as a female physician in a male-dominated profession. Her commitment to preventive and holistic medicine helped many patients beyond the confines of traditional medicine. She was ahead of her time in the recognition of sports-related traumatic brain injury.
Zofia’s compassionate nature was the driving force in her care of patients, family and friends and fostered deep affection and appreciation.
Zofia was predeceased by her parents, infant older sister, brother, husband, and son-in-law William L. Ferguson. She is survived by three daughters: Barbara and husband Ian Garner of Nashville, TN and Auckland, NZ; Marzena Laszewski (Ferguson) of Rocky Mount, NC; Dorothy and husband Ted Polomis of Marshfield Hills, MA; and two granddaughters, Sophie and Emily Ferguson.
The family would like to thank the many caregivers and the staff at Abe’s Garden for the loving and compassionate care they extended to Zofia in her last years. The family would also like to extend heartfelt appreciation to Alive Hospice for making her last days as comfortable as possible.
The burial will take place at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI on June 15, 2018 at 11 AM.
A memorial mass will be held at Saint Henry’s Catholic Church, 6401 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN on June 29 at 2 PM.
In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations can be made to Abe’s Garden (abesgarden.org), Alive Hospice (alivehospice.org), and Disabled Veterans (dav.org).
- Memorial Mass Friday, June 29, 2018
Zofia K Laszewski
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