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Polish Immigrant, Trying to Visit Ailing Mother, Robbed of Borrowed Funds

June 14, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ Forty-five minutes after Polish immigrant Stella Kurek borrowed $4,000 to visit her ailing 83-year-old mother in Poland, a teen-ager stole her purse and $4,500.

Such things, Mrs. Kurek said, never happened in her native Poland or in Siberia, where the Soviet government sent her family from 1940 to 1946.

″In Siberia, we didn’t have money,″ Mrs. Kurek, 59, of Elmwood Park, said. ″We didn’t have clothes. There was security there. You have nothing, so nobody can take nothing.″

But on Wednesday her concern was for another mother - the mother of Jerome Lewis, 17, convicted of stealing Mrs. Kurek’s money. After the jury’s verdict was read, Mrs. Kurek, mother of two, walked up to Lewis’ mother.

″I’m sorry for you,″ she told Lanzy Ware, who has 12 children. ″I’m a mother, too.″

Police have not found Mrs. Kurek’s money.

She is paying interest on the $4,000 she had borrowed from a bank just before her purse was stolen from her car at a stoplight as she was driving to a travel agency to buy a ticket for her trip to Poland.

It is not the first time that Mrs. Kurek has been short of money.

Eighteen years ago, she came to the United States with $5.

She worked as a nurse at two Chicago hospitals for 13 years. In 1979, she injured one of her legs in a car accident and later went on disability.

She still sends $1,000 a year to her mother.

″I want to give her everything I can because she had a horrible life in Siberia, with four kids, no food and no clothes,″ she said. ″I love her so very much. I want to see her soon. But how?″

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