Jolanta (Jola) Bożena Puciłowska, passed away beside her loving husband in her Chapel Hill home on May 4, 2020. She waged a valiant seven-year fight against pancreatic cancer, living her life to the fullest, caring for hundreds of patients, and selflessly supporting family, friends, and strangers alike. She was a generous, resolute, and indomitable woman whose unwavering passion and energy inspired everyone around her.
Jolanta was born in the spring of 1952 in Wrocław, Poland to Michał and Leokadia Czeczotko. Her family relocated to Warsaw where she met her future husband Olgierd Puciłowski at 33 Copernicus High School. They attended Warsaw Medical Academy together where their lives become inextricably intertwined, their love culminating in marriage in 1975. One year later they had their first of five children. Jolanta graduated medical school in 1977, beginning a lifelong dedication to medicine and the care of others. She started her career as a physician in Bielański Hospital in Warsaw. In the intervening decade, she gave birth to three more children and together with her husband made plans to emigrate to the United States. In 1989 the Communist regime was toppled, and they relocated to Durham, North Carolina. What was to be temporary proved permanent, with Jolanta putting down roots and spending the final thirty-one years of her life in North Carolina. During this period, she gave birth to the last of her five children and advanced her career, working as a medical researcher and educator at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (1990-2002), and a practicing psychiatrist in Dorothea Dix Hospital (2006-2009) and Alamance Regional Medical Center (2009-2020).
Jola was wholly dedicated to her family, of which she was the beating heart. She worked tirelessly to provide for her children and instill in them a firm moral compass. Jolanta was always the liveliest voice in the room. Her eyes radiated wisdom and her hands were in constant motion cooking, cleaning, fixing, improving. She had boundless, contagious energy. She displayed uncompromising grace through success, adversity, and pain. But most of all, Jola was strong. She was a foundational pillar in many lives and could always be depended on to provide advice, assistance, and love.
Jola lived a boisterous, fulfilling, and accomplished life. She is survived by her husband, her five sons (Jakub, Szymon, Mateusz, Olgierd, and Julian), and four grandchildren (Noah, Mila, Audrey, and Alice). Her memory and influence are irreversibly etched on countless more.
Unfortunately, current circumstances make holding a funeral impossible. In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to honor Jolanta’s life and work can donate to Doctors Without Borders (please use link on left).
Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill is assisting the family
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