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Harriet A. Lesniak

December 30, 1928 ~ April 24, 2020 (age 91)

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Harriet A. Lesniak, nee Grumad, age 91, passed away April 24, 2020.  Beloved wife of the late John; loving mother of Lorraine (Steve) Mallon, John (Angela) Lesniak, Anne (Rick) Helmus, Paul (Sarah) Lesniak and George Lesniak; cherished grandmother of Claudia Mallon (Eric Wenzel), Peter Mallon, Eric Mallon, John Lesniak, Andrew Lesniak, Matt Helmus (Jocelyn Behm), Beky (Matt) Olson, Trasa (Josh) Spillyards, Keith Lesniak and Julie Lesniak; dearest great-grandmother of Isaac Olson, Violet Olson and Sonny Spillyards; treasured sister of the late Edwin Grumad, Caroline Barrett and Lillian Kusmider; dear sister-in-law of Janet Kalkowski; fond aunt of many nieces and nephews; adored by Rozie and all of her many furry grandchildren.

Harriet was, for many wonderful decades, the cornerstone of her family and her neighborhood. A talented seamstress, cook and baker, Harriet was forever creating things that brought joy to those around her, wherever she went. From sewing beautiful clothes (including a wedding dress!) to her famed strawberry jelly, Harriet showed her love in countless tangible ways; if you ever ate her pierogies, nothing else could ever hold a candle.

Beyond her many talents, Harriet was funny, clever and strong in spirit & convictions. She spoke her mind and was a vocal supporter of the people in her life, generous with cards and   mementos that let you know she was always thinking of you. She organized cookie walks and afternoon card games, and knew how to have fun with the people in her life, be it on bank trips or summer holidays at Gun Lake. Harriet’s house was often the center of gatherings for her family and friends, and her wonderful laugh was generous and enveloping.

She loved having her family around her, and thrived hosting backyard barbeques, holidays and family dinners. She always had homemade goodies at the ready and hosted the best sleepovers for her grandchildren. She was many people’s favorite party guest - If you were lucky enough to eat something she made, the memory of that food inevitably found a special way into your heart. People who met her only a handful of times would reminisce about her food with whichever family member had brought her along for the fun, hoping she’d come again with the golabki or brownie cake they had been bowled over by. This was how so many surrogate children and grandchildren found their way into Harriet’s life.

Holidays with Harriet were particularly memorable. You’d know December had arrived by the dozens of cookie tins stacked in the basement that seemed to refill endlessly the whole month long. Christmas mornings started early with a breakfast of hearty Polish fare for the neighbors, and segued into an endless stream of desserts and laughter with her family, everyone crammed around the kitchen table on however many spare seats were needed to ensure everyone could sit together.  

To all who’ve received Harriet’s oplatki blessings over the years, let us all find joy in keeping her memory alive and striving to live the full life she wished for all us - this means, importantly, following Harriet’s lead and never skimping on the butter!

A graveside service will be held privately at Maryhill Cemetery.  A memorial celebration of Harriet’s life will be arranged at a later date. In memory of her culinary skills, contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to the Lee Initiative’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program, which is supporting the thousands of restaurant workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Donations can be made here:


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Harriet A. Lesniak, please visit our floral store.


Inurnment Private

Maryhill Cemetery
8600 N Milwaukee
Niles, IL 60714

Celebration of Life to be announced at a later date


Lee Initiative’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program

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