Wanda Sophia (Grabowski) Cobrda, arrived as a warm bundle of joy on a cold winters’ night in Jersey City, NJ December 13, 1930, and after a life full of adventure, took her last breath peacefully at the age of 89 on April 29, 2020 where she lived at The Fountains at Washington House in Alexandria, VA.
Wanda’s philosophy on life was shaped by the stark realities of the great depression. As the 7th child in a family of ten - six sisters and a brother - she learned quickly to adapt to new situations and make new friends as her father and mother, Anthony and Stella Grabowski, moved the large family from Jersey City to a farm in upstate Oneonta, NY and eventually a brownstone in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY.
She had a voracious appetite for adventure and spent her early adult years trying out a variety of glamorous careers. She foxtrotted countless nights away as professional dance teacher on the Arthur Murray TV show, struck many a pose as a hat model, and honed her shorthand as an assistant to professors at Columbia University. She loved Coney Island, and would never miss an opportunity to dress up and polka at the Polish Falcons. From the volumes of pictures her daughters sorted through, she had quite the social life on the weekends at various Catskill resorts in her twenties. On one trip to Europe she met the love of her life, John E Cobrda (death 2006) serendipitously on a busy Paris street corner. They married in 1961 and together, raised 3 daughters in Scotch Plains, NJ. In their younger years, they were both active members and volunteers at St. Bartholomew’s Church and with the Warren Elks Club.
Wildly charming and often inappropriate, Wanda loved to share jokes, yes, even at funerals. She was a dedicated mother who shared her love for movement, creativity, cooking, gardening and birding. As a depression-era baby, she took conservation efforts very seriously and fancied herself an avid thrifter. She was warm and loving but at times the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and the unfair mind games which accompany bipolar disorder clouded her mind and her demeanor.
She had a love for life that couldn’t be suppressed. The last few years, however, she was unable to exercise and eventually lost her ability to walk. Even though she suffered from the disorientation of dementia she was aware that she was at the end of her life and told her daughters that she wasn’t afraid of dying. “Jesus is my best friend, and I have had a good life. I am lucky, I am so proud of my girls.”
She is survived by her three daughters, their spouses, and seven grandchildren Wendy Cobrda (spouse Peter Buonfiglio, John-Luke and Juliana), Deborah Cobrda-Ringo (spouse Chip Ringo, Kendall and Griffin) and Christy Cobrda Howe (spouse Philip Howe, Emily, Jack and Peter.)
There will be no funeral services.
Should you wish, send a small donation in her name to NAMI in lieu of flowers.