Jadwiga Maria Staar
June 28, 1924-April 3, 2018
Portola Valley, California
Submitted by Christina S. Peters
Jadwiga Maria Staar died in Portola Valley on April 3, 2018. She was ninety-three years old. She was the widow of Richard F. Staar, who passed just one week prior to her departing. Jadwiga was born Jadwiga Ochota on June 28, 1924 in the Kaszuby lake region in northern Poland.
She worked for the Polish underground during World War II, tapping German telephone lines and serving as a messenger. She spent time in a slave labor camp, where she continued her resistance to the German occupation by producing flawed screws on the U-Boot assembly line.
When the Germans withdrew from northern Poland, she joined a group of British POWs, reaching Odessa. Suffering from double pneumonia, she was taken to a hospital in a displaced persons’ camp in Aversa, Italy. Recovering, she worked as a nurse in the camp and met her future father-in-law. He gave her contact information for his daughter if Jadwiga ever came to the United States.
She earned diplomas in language and literature from the Sorbonne in Paris and universities in Munich and Pisa. Several years later, Jadwiga came to New York and contacted the Staar family. Her soon-to-be husband met her and it was love at first sight. They married and she helped support her husband, Richard, as a nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital while Richard finished graduate school. She earned her citizenship and gave birth to two daughters. The family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she continued her studies at Emory University, singing with the Collegium Musicum and earning a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Emory. She was active in the community in Atlanta, supporting the arts and education and working as a Girl Scout leader. She was fascinated by geology and was an avid gardener, growing roses, peonies, pansies, dahlias, violets, and many more. She would often share these treasures by giving bouquets to her friends.
She moved to Stanford, California with her family and went back into the work force once her daughters were in college. She was fluent in five languages; English, Polish, German, French, and Italian, and taught herself Russian. She used these languages as a research analyst for Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and Sun Microsystems. She supported her husband in Austria as the wife of the Ambassador as he became the Representative of the United States of America for Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Negotiations with the Soviet Union. During one of her trips back to Poland, she met a group of Polish scouts and sponsored them to come to America to participate in the Venture Scouts’ Rendezvous.
With her husband Richard, she spent the last years of her life at the Sequoias in Portola Valley, still an avid gardener and tutor, encouraging members of the staff to pursue educational degrees. She was also interested in astronomy and would often join others at the Sequoias as a star gazer. She is survived by her two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Tags: teacher/educator, public service