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By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

Kathryn Chwaz greets 105th Birthday

The Spirit of Tehachapi


January 21, 2023


Kathryn Chwaz.

On January 15, 1918, a cold, winter day in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Kathryn Pointek (Chwaz) first opened her eyes to view the world to which she had been born. The year, 1918, found Woodrow Wilson as President of the United States. Not only that, the U.S. was in the midst of World War I which was called, "The war to end all wars."

This happy little girl was the daughter of Catherine and Jacob Pointek, both arriving to this country from Austria. She and her siblings grew up in a loving, hardworking Catholic family; the church being an integral part in their lives.

Kathryn was 10 years old when her brother, Francis, left for the seminary to study for the priesthood. He attended the Pontifical College Josephinum located in Columbus, Ohio.

Growing to adulthood, Kathryn and her older sister, Mary, decided to try their wings and moved to New York City to enter the working forces. Not too far from home but far enough to discover the expenses of being on one's own.

Wedding bells rang in 1946 when she and Frank Chwaz were married and began their life together. Adventure called to the newly weds when her brother, Father Francis Pointek, wrote to them telling them of the employment opportunities in California. Father Pointek had been ordained in 1940 and soon after sent to what was termed "the mission fields" of California. This was Post World War II days. The war had ended in 1945. The opportunities at U.S. Borax plant in Boron paid well. The couple drove across America and ended up in the Mojave Desert in the city and parish where her brother was Pastor of Santa Barbara's Church in Randsburg. Now, a ghost town, Randsburg had a good population of three thousand souls at that time. Father Pointek was also Pastor of two mission churches; St Ann's church in Ridgecrest and Saint Joseph's in Boron.

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As the couple drove across the lovely, scenic parts of the country on their journey, it was a bit of a shock to view the Mojave Desert and find her brother's residence in a rather barren land. As they parked in front of Father Pointek's residence she told her husband, Frank, "Don't even take bags out of the car!" This was about 1948.

The couple did investigate the work advantages in Boron and Frank found employment there at U. S. Borax and ended up working there until retiring. Kathryn managed the Boron Department Store. Boron became a thriving community. So much so that she asked her sister, Anne, to bring her two daughters, Janet and Lois; and they came! They stayed, as well. The desert has its own beauty and one finds it has many advantages.

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Saint Joseph's Church was fortunate to have Kathryn and Anne as faithful and helpful parishioners. Also civic minded, Kathryn was elected Mayor twice and was a respected citizen. On her 100th birthday five years ago in Boron, she decided that perhaps she should not live alone anymore. She now lives in Tehachapi with her niece, Janet. Welcome to Tehachapi, Kathryn!

As is the case when one is "getting up in years" a good friend and nurse/care giver is welcomed into the home. Nurse, Kathleen Bloom has a few cheerful words about Kathryn as well:

"Kathryn enjoys the simple things now in life and those that are part of her day. Her mind is still sharp and her wit catches you off guard. She has days when she is up to playing games or car rides. She enjoys sunshine and roses, having a book read, a good meal and a piece of buttered toast each day to name a few. Just the other day she wanted a lottery ticket! 'You never know, ' she said. 'It could be a winner.' She and Janet are very close. Their stories and memories would fill a book. As they grow older together, each day is a gift. Kathryn has always said her longevity was a gift from God and her good work ethic."

God's blessings to you, Kathryn, on your birthday and every day of your life!


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