Bertha Frances Kodis blended strength and wisdom with grace and sweetness in a long, full life that ended Thursday in the home she and her husband built with their own hands 65 years ago.
Bert was 96 when she died, but her mind was young and sharp. She was cleaning up at the bridge tables only a few months ago and pouring through the newspapers critically only a few days ago
Bert’s gentle, dignified and respectful approach to life helped her handle the ups and downs of this world, and her everlasting sweetness led to fast, wonderful friendships with nearly everyone she met. She was easy to know, and even easier to like.
Bert was born on Dec. 3, 1915 to Frank and Frances Cebula. After her father died her mother remarried to Patrick Matras, who became beloved by Bert and her eight brothers and sisters.
Bert grew up in Chicopee and attended schools there. She went to work at an early age at Westinghouse, where her character and determination earned her tuition at the Baypath Business School. Her success there and her skill with the most advanced office equipment quickly gained her executive secretarial positions at Westinghouse and later at the Springfield Armory.
Bert’s lifelong love of athletics blossomed during those working years as a member of Chicopee’s Polish Falcons, especially in basketball and track and field. It was during a track meet that she would meet the man she would marry and spend the next 62 years with, Victor Kodis.
When WW II broke out Victor became a naval officer and was sent overseas, while Bert raised their first son, Victor Jr., in a Springfield tenement building. After the war, Vic and Bert built a new home in Wilbraham, had their second son, Alan, and began the rich years of family life, full of growth and full of love. Bert would have it no other way.
In 1955, they built a large swimming pool in the back yard and began what would be 25 years of teaching kids how to swim and dive. Before they were done, thousands of kids had been given certified American Red Cross swimming and life saving instruction. Vic played the drill sergeant while Bert was the gentle, friendly voice who handled the tougher cases. With a few quiet but skillfully chosen words, and lots of reassurance, Bert would persuade kids to put their heads underwater and come up with a smile.
As the teaching years went by, Bert also flourished with her bridge groups and her competitive indoor badminton. And she had a serious game of golf, which she played into her late eighties.
Bert also worked with the Carew Hill Boys and Girls Club and the Wilbraham Women’s Club. She was a busy person, and like everything else in her life she would not have had it any other way.
But she is gone. Her smile, her warmth, and her sweetness will be greatly missed. She leaves her two sons, Vic and his wife Pat of Hadley, Alan and his friend Jeannie Fortune of Springfield; her granddaughter Lisa Rotundo and her husband Richard of Connecticut; and her great grandchildren Mia and Richie Rotundo. Bert also leaves a brother, Stanley Matras and his wife Celia of Chicopee; a sister, Irene Gendron of Wilbraham; and many nieces and nephews. Bert also considered her friends Irene Bizon, Lee Wallace, Irene Sergentanis, and Norma Bandarra, as family, along with all the women she cared so much about because they saw to it that she never missed bridge nights, no matter how hard it was for her to get around.
Bert was pre-deceased by her husband, Victor; her brothers Joe, Leo and Ted Cebula; her sisters Alice Nahormek, Nel Avault and Stella Raciborski Jourdain.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Baystate VNA, Hospice and Home Care, 50 Maple St. Springfield, 01102, which the family wishes to thank for its extraordinarily effective and compassionate care of Bert.
For further information, directions, and on line guest book please visit www.KapinosMazurFH.com Independently Owned and Operated Kapinos-Mazur Funeral Home and Cremation With Confidence by Kapinos-Mazur “Care For The Community Since 1932”
Family and friends may gather at St. Cecilia’s Church 42 Main St. Wilbraham on Thursday March 15, 2012 for a 10 AM Liturgy of Christian Burial. Rites of Committal will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Tinkham Road in Springfield.