TRAVERSE CITY — Stella Susan Berak, 95, of Traverse City, died Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, surrounded by her loving family. Stella was born on July 31, 1918, in Buffington, Pa., to the late Ladislaus Strus and Suzanna Staryarsky. She married Steven Joseph Berak on Aug. 24, 1940, at St. Stanislaus Church in Detroit. Stella and Steven celebrated 64 years of marriage.
They raised their three daughters in Utica, where they were active members of St. Lawrence Catholic Church before moving to Traverse City in 1975. One of her favorite places was their cabin, built as a family retreat in Metz called Kozy Korner. Stella’s favorite things included being surrounded by her family, gardening in her sunhats, mushroom picking for our Christmas soup, canning, and making her famous apple pies and angel wings. She also crocheted hundreds of beautiful afghans and dishtowels. Stella taught her family many Polish traditions that will continue to be shared and treasured for generations to come. She was an environmentalist before her time and always wrapped her family’s presents in recycled newspaper. Her giving heart showed in her food, especially her tomato machunka, pierogis, golumpki, chicken paprikash and bean soup.
Stella was a devoted Catholic who prayed the rosary daily. She was a member of Saint Rose of Lima, Daughters of Isabella for 50 years, serving as Chair of the Rosary Club. She made thousands of rosaries that were shipped all over the world.
Surviving Stella are her daughters, Virginia (Ginger) Kuhr of Traverse City, Dr. Lorraine Berak of Williamsburg, and Patty Berak and husband Donald Nance of Centerline; grandchildren, Sue Kuhr of Kalamazoo, Pam and husband Ronald Haag of Lake Orion, Brian Kuhr of Traverse City, and Kristy and husband Stephen McDonald of Elk Rapids; and great-grandchildren, Michael Yarzebinski, Isabel and Nick Haag, Kelly and Kaylee Kuhr, Harper Daigh, Sophia and Ian McDonald. She also leaves behind many nieces and nephews in the Michigan and Ohio area. Stella (Mom, Grandma, Big Grandma, GG) will be in our hearts forever.