In Memory of

Virginia Lillian Brodniak

June 20, 1921–June 13, 2020

Photo of Virginia Lillian Brodniak

About Virginia Lillian Brodniak

Virginia Brodniak, a longtime resident of Salem, was born on Staten Island on June 20, 1921 and lived to one week shy of her 99th birthday. She was the first child born to Alfred and Lillian, and the last to leave this mortal existence. Preceding her in death were her beloved husband, Joe, two brothers, Vernon and Clifford and her infant son, David.

She would tell you, if given the chance, how much she missed our dad, Joe. He virtually proposed on their second date, after the first “blind” date. It took 2 years for them to marry, the day before Pearl Harbor! Plus, Dad had his draft notice in his tux! What a way to start life with challenges and a bang!

They had an ordinary life full of challenges, joys and sorrows, but ended up as extraordinary people in the process.

Virginia, our mother, was the inspiration for many a construction project, relying on the skills and determination of our Dad, her husband Joe to carry them out. They designed and built their first home from “scratch” where they raised their family of four children, Maida, Jeffrey, Brian and Neil. This was a project lasting over 30 years. They raised chickens for a while, and built up a productive garden space on barren sand. They were a good pair, and together truly enjoyed collecting, mining, and dealing with rocks, minerals and fossils.

Virginia was a loyal, loving person. She always wanted to stand for what was right, good, and compassionate, leading her to be active in church, school PTA’s and local politics in her native state on the Eastern seaboard.

She loved reading and was always in the process of reading some book. She loved crafts and gardening. She was always finding something new and interesting to do. In 1976, she headed up Bicentennial celebrations, learned how to shear sheep, card and spin wool. While out driving, if she saw an unshorn sheep, she would often stop the car, jump out and negotiate for the fleece. She sat dressed in colonial clothing at many weaving demonstrations. She even spun dog hair into yarn.

Virginia loved making jewelry as well as greeting cards and would start planning her Christmas cards in January so she would have enough made to send by Christmas. These cards are all classics and it is difficult to discard them.

A lover of all things beautiful, an artist at heart, she attended fashion design schools in New York, but chose to create a beautiful family instead of a career.
She was in the upper 3% of her 500+ member high school graduating class.

Virginia’s faith started early in her life, when she would attend a local church by herself. This faith increased over time, especially when her baby son David died shortly after birth. She joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in mid-life; it was an unshatterable force in her life. She was sealed to her beloved husband, Joseph and her children for time and all eternity. This faith, assurance and knowledge of the eternal nature of existence and permanence of family ties carried her through the past 20 years as a widow. She entered Eternity willingly and eagerly.

Her home was always welcoming. We children called it the “Brodniak Hotel and Restaurant” because there was always room for one more. She was an expert at stretching meals at the last minute to accommodate anyone dropping by. She and our Dad, Joe, took in relatives in distress as well as complete strangers in need—some for weeks or months.

We, her living children, grew up thinking this was simply the way everyone lived; we did not realize how extraordinarily blessed we were. We are proud and deeply grateful to have had our mother here on earth for almost 99 years and are happy to have been able to share her with you. We are happy our brother David now has his chance to live with both our parents, and look forward to the morning of the first Resurrection when we can all rise together.

Thank you for rejoicing with us, Maida, Jeffrey (and wife, “Babe” Beulah Rose), Brian (wife, Alana) and Neil.
9 grandchildren
24 great grandchildren
Countless nieces, nephews, cousins