Ursula and Jerry Choromanski grew up just a few blocks from each other in northeast Minneapolis, but his family belonged to Holy Cross Catholic Church and hers to St. Boniface, so their paths didn’t cross until their early 20s.
Jerry went to college and then to war. Ursula went to nursing school and then to work. They courted, married and had seven daughters. They moved to Crystal to be closer to work and to St. Raphael’s, where they went to church and the girls attended school.
The couple built a life on faith, common values and raising their family together. Jerry died on July 14 at age 88, and Ursula just a week later, on July 21, at 86.
Jerry focused on his career at Marquette Bank in Minneapolis, then became head cashier for Crystal State Bank, which he later bought. He owned an insurance agency and a travel service and led many boards, including the Minnesota Bankers Association and the Minneapolis Golf Club. For a successful life, he believed, you just needed to know five words: “Please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”
Ursula devoted herself to being a mom, teaching the girls to always be humble and kind. Every morning, the girls woke up to find seven brown-bag lunches on the counter, each with a sandwich, chips, fruit and a candy bar. In her “beautiful handwriting,” said daughter Lynn Choromanski, Ursula wrote each daughter’s name on the bag. “She had to remember which kid liked which sandwich.”
Ursula told the girls that if someone asks what their dad does for a living, tell them he works at a bank. If they ask what he does, tell them he’s the janitor.
“She never wanted anyone to think we thought we were better than them,” Choromanski said.
Ursula kept a drawer full of candy and a fridge full of Popsicles. At 3 p.m., every day, it was treat time for whoever showed up.
“Even the neighbor kids,” Choromanski said. “We learned generosity from Mom.”
And at night there was “happy hour” for kids and adults, often during “Jeopardy.”
“Nobody could call during ‘Jeopardy,’ that was sacred time.”
When an elderly relative had a stroke and needed care, Ursula and Jerry couldn’t find a place nearby where they could live with both skilled medical and pastoral care. So in 1968, with a deep spiritual devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux — “The Little Flower” (Ursula had a particular love of roses and bridal wreath) — they helped established the St. Therese Care Center, a nonprofit, assisted-living facility in New Hope. Jerry helped run the business and Ursula was a founding member of the women’s auxiliary and helped run the gift shop.
In 2011, Ursula and Jerry together received the Aging Services of Minnesota Trustees of the Year Award for their efforts.
Ursula prayed daily to St. Therese, and one of her last prayer intentions was for the canonization of St. Therese’s parents, Louis and Zélie Martin. Earlier this year, Pope Francis announced that Louis and Zélie Martin would be canonized in October.
Services for both the Choromanskis have been held.
In addition to daughter Lynn, Jerry and Ursula are survived by daughters Jennifer Shaltz, Jane Norris, Mary Faust, Paula McCrossan, Anne Swenson and Caroline Partoll. Other survivors include 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, as well as in-laws and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.