Mary Ann Grabowski was a talented painter – oil and canvas her preferred method; Impressionism her style; and her favorite subjects, fittingly, her family. A dedicated daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Grabowski put family, along with her faith, above everything else until her death, at age 97, on May 8, 2023.
“It was her devotion to her family that really kept her going,” said her oldest child, son George Grabowski.
Grabowski was born Mary Ann Studnicki, the second youngest of Boleslaus and Helen Studnicki’s six children, on Aug. 23, 1925, in Central City, Pennsylvania, where she lived for the first few years of her life before her family moved to Detroit. Born in the final year of the “Greatest Generation,” she was alive for both World War II and the Great Depression, the latter a harrowing period for her family, but one that ultimately gave her the grit and tenacity she carried through the entirety of her life.
When she was 25, Mary Ann met W. George Grabowski at a dance. Two years later they were married. All five children were born in Detroit, but when W. George was offered a job in 1967 with Pan-American Airlines, the family moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida. Soon after, they purchased their beachfront home that Mary Ann lived in until her final days.
Upon settling in Cocoa Beach, Mary Ann, a mother of five, began a career as an aerospace secretary for General Electric’s Apollo Systems Department, which provided equipment and engineering services to NASA’s Apollo project.
“She helped put a man on the moon,” said daughter Diane Nepa.
Mary Ann later worked at a local appraisal office, but her greatest value came outside the office. In addition to being a loving wife to W. George, who died in 1994, she instilled strong,Catholicvalues in her children, teaching them not only to love God but love all people and to always be kind. She was encouraging, positive and was perhaps best known for her sense of humor.
“She’d always say that was the key to life,” said daughter Sandra Wagner.
Mary Ann also enjoyed interior design and fashion, vacations to Palm Beach, cooking (especially Golabki, a Polish cabbage dish) and sewing – she sewed all her daughters’ cheerleading outfits. She was handy – “she’d readily pick up a hammer, wrench or roller,” said her son Mark Grabowski – and had a reputation for gifting tools. She loved classical music, a passion she shared with her son Robert, whom she encouraged to start guitar lessons. She was a skilled typist and later in life took up piano, though no hobby of hers compared with painting. Inspired by the works of Mona Jordan and John Haughton Hague, Mary Ann painted dozens, if not over a hundred, paintings, many of which hang on the walls of her children’s – and grandchildren’s – homes.
“She painted until she couldn’t do it anymore,” said George Grabowski.
For Mary Ann, it was always about family.As she aged, Mary Ann unsurprisingly remained positive, always, while keeping God at the forefront. She took joy in seeing her children happy, and their successes, and was determined, as one of her final wishes, to meet her great-granddaughter, Mary, who is named after her. She accomplished that and much more in her long, joyous life.
And when it was her time to go, with her family by her side, Mary Ann was at peace: Her greatest masterpiece – not as a painter but as a true servant of God and her family – was complete.
Mary Ann was preceded in death by her husband, W. George Grabowski; parents, Boleslaus Studnicki and Helen Studnicki; and five siblings, sisters Stephanie Studnicki, Josephine Slack and Genevive Carboy, and brothers Stanley and Ted Studnicki
She is survived by her children, sons George, Mark and Robert Grabowski, and daughters, Diane Nepa and Sandra Wagner; sons-in-law Gary Nepa and Richard Wagner; daughter-in-law Diana Grabowski; grandchildren Paige Romine, Ryan Wagner, Dante Nepa and Alessandra Nepa; and great-granddaughter Mary June Romine. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions, in her name, to Our Saviour Catholic Church.
A funeral mass will be held at Our Saviour Catholic Church (5301 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach, FL, 32931) on Tuesday, May 16, at 10:30 a.m. ET.