Elsie Bujnoch Steffek, 88, of Hallettsville, Texas, passed away July 11, 2012. She was born on December 1, 1922 to George and Apolena Miculek Bujnoch in Lavaca County near Hallettsville. She was the fourth oldest of eight children. Elsie attended Thompson School through the eighth grade.
Elsie met her future husband, Joseph Frank Steffek of Hallettsville, at Worthing Dancehall. The two dated throughout Joe’s service in Europe during World War II. They married November 13, 1945 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hallettsville and celebrated fifty-seven wedding anniversaries before Joe’s death in 2003. After they married, Joe and Elsie moved to Joe’s family homestead a few miles outside Hallettsville on the Lavaca River. In 1955 they moved to a farm just north of Hallettsville. The two worked incredibly hard throughout their lives, living off the land through farming and ranching cattle. Joe and Elsie raised three children: Leona Mae, James Joseph and Margaret “Peggy” Ann.
Elsie was industrious and hardworking. Throughout her life she worked on her family’s farms in various capacities including picking cotton and pecans, raising animals, sewing all her family’s clothes, canning, and maintaining a large vegetable garden and multiple fruit trees. Outside of her numerous obligations on the farm and as a mother, Elsie worked outside the home as a nurse’s aide at Stephen’s Convalescent Center for twelve years. Subsequently, Elsie worked part-time at the Senior Citizen Information Office at the Lavaca County Courthouse for several years.
Elsie was sincerely dedicated to her enduring Catholic faith. As a child she was a parishioner of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and later became a patron of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Elsie played an active role in the church; she led the rosary before mass for several years, was a part of the Catholic Daughters of America and the KJZT Society #2, and volunteered on a regular basis to support church picnics. Her volunteerism also extended to her community as she served on the Hospital Guild, volunteered at the Hallettsville Medical Center, and was a member of the Hallettsville Garden Club, the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion and the VFW.
Elsie was extremely proud of her Czech history. Elsie’s ancestors emigrated from the Czech Republic in the late 1800s, and Elsie was devoted to maintaining the traditions and customs of her ancestors and imparting them on her family. She was a long-time member of the Lavaca County Czech Heritage Society. The love of Elsie’s life and her greatest passion was singing and Czech music. She was a member in the St. Mary’s Czech Choir for numerous years and sang with them at numerous masses, funerals and events. She was also notorious for impromptu performances at social events like family reunions. In 1995, Elsie combined her pride for her Czech history with her incredible knack for baking, winning the kolache bakeoff contest and becoming Hallettsville’s first Kolache Queen. Elsie was fiercely protective of this family recipe, which she learned from her sister Lottie, and to this day has only taught her granddaughter Lisa the secret recipe.
Despite reluctantly having to leave school at a relatively early age, Elsie embraced a love and passion for knowledge and education throughout her lifetime. She was an avid reader and read the newspaper on a daily basis from cover to cover. In her early sixties she took it upon herself to teach herself how to type. She was also knowledgeable and vocal about her government and wrote to her congressmen on a regular basis. For Elsie, higher education was paramount and she and her husband worked incredibly hard to put their three children through college. She also instilled her love of learning and higher education in her granddaughters who, between the four of them, hold two doctoral degrees, four master’s degrees, four undergraduate degrees, and another pending doctoral degree.
Elsie was fiercely strong-willed and spirited. She was notorious for insisting that she knew what was best, and, if you knew her at all, you knew it was best just to agree with her. She had a caring spirit and loved her family. She was an extraordinary cook and enjoyed cooking for her friends and family. Elsie was quite the social butterfly. She loved to visit with friends and family and to attend social gatherings. One of her favorite pastimes was playing Forty Two. As little girls, she taught the game to her granddaughters and loved playing with them. However, what Elsie loved more than dominos was winning at dominos, so she never let them win without quite a fight.
Elsie is survived by: her daughters, Leona Steffek Moore and her husband Pat of Missouri City, and Peggy Steffek Mendel and her husband Bobby of St. John; her son, James Steffek and his wife Marsha of Beaumont; her sister, Mary Helen Bujnoch of Hallettsville; her grandchildren, Heather Moore Faske and her husband Kevin of Sugar Land, Shelley Steffek of Houston, Paige Moore Woodring and her husband Eric of Houston, and Lisa Steffek of Houston; as well as her four great-grandchildren, Brian, Russell, Avery and Justin, a few close brother and sister-in-laws, and many nieces and nephews.
Elsie was preceded in death by: her husband; her infant son; her parents; her four sisters, Annie Dornak, Olga Bujnoch, Lottie Kocian, and Henrietta Nevlud, and her two brothers: Leon Bujnoch and George Bujnoch.
Funeral Mass Service: 10 am, Saturday, July 14, 2012, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Hallettsville. Visitation: 4 pm, Friday at Kubena Funeral Home. Rosary: 7 pm, Friday at Kubena Funeral Home. Officiate: Rev John Peters. Pallbearers: Ed Nevlud, David Bujnoch, Leonard Steffek, Allen Steffek, Alvin Steffek, and Frances Dornak. Burial: Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery. Memorials: Sacred Heart Catholic School or Church.