Maria Renata ("Rena") Fudakowska Sobanska

by George C. Fudakowski/Ford, Rena's half-brother

click on image
to enlarge
circa 1920s

Rena was born in Paris on July 19, 1911, to George Fudakowski, an engineer at Westinghouse, and Janina (Nina) Videl Fudakowska, the daughter of a well-known Polish lawyer. The family soon returned to Warsaw to be closer to Nina's family. (Videl is sometimes spelled Weydel or Waydel.)

click on image
to enlarge
with brothers Thomas and George in 1977

When the Germans took Warsaw in August, 1915, George was unable to remain and instead went with the departing Russians to St. Petersburg. His family remained in Warsaw. Nina fell victim to an epidemic of scarlet fever and died on December 18, 1915. Rena and her younger brother Zygmunt lived with their aunt, Nina's sister, and their maternal grandfather.

Rena attended a Sacred Hearts school in Brussels for a year or two. On her return, she lived with her father and kept his house. Despite the difficulties of obtaining employment at that time, she got a job with an airline because of her command of many languages.

In 1932 Rena was engaged to Stanislaw (Stas) Sobanski. He was 24, she was 21, and they had known each other for two years. Stas was from Gdynia, the new Polish port on the Baltic, built to reduce Polish dependence on the "free city" of Danzig (known as Gdańsk to the Poles) created after the Armistice. A letter from Rena to Tom and George told of their engagement.

Rena married Stas on June 28, 1934, at St. Alexander's Church in Warsaw. They had three children:

• Oscar was born in Gdynia on April 20, 1935. He married Wanda Okrinska on December 14, 1954, and divorced in 1967. Their daughter Ella (Elizabeth) was born in Warsaw on December 26, 1955.

Oscar married Jania Palecka on September 5, 1968. Their son Michal was born on April 13, 1969.

• Michal was born in Gdynia on November 24, 1937. He married Anna Marcinkowski on June 28, 1961. He died in a plane crash on March 5, 1967, while returning from South Africa.

• Janina was born on November 15, 1939, and died in Warsaw on March 31, 1963.

Rena died in Warsaw on May 4, 1996, at the age of 84.

Additional source: Zygmunt's Reminiscences, 1989

Fudakowski-Krajewski family home