Wanda Mary Payne (August 1, 1923 - October 19, 2018) Daughter of Ignatius Gerus (originally Giruc) and Adela Gerus (formerly Karawacka). Wanda was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On June 17, 1944, she married her sweetheart, Jesse Paul Payne, who was serving in the navy on the submarine USS Carp. Like her parents who left Europe in 1910 to come to the United States, Wanda also had an adventure, and in 1945 after World War II, left Boston to live in South Texas where Paul’s family had homesteaded around the turn of the century. She found Harlingen, with its rural Southern ways, hot weather, palm trees and cactus, to be quite exotic. She never forgot her first experiences with the pervasive bugs which chewed-up her fur coat in her mother-in-law’s closet or with the steep banks of the irrigation canals, where Paul tried to teach her to drive.
Like her mother, she especially loved to crochet. She enjoyed music and singing, particularly Broadway show tunes; cooking, especially traditional Polish dishes such as kielbasa and chlodnik; and crossword puzzles. When not returning to Boston to visit family and friends, Wanda liked to travel and visit historical sites and museums and stay in historic hotels. She also enjoyed simple things, like “going for a ride” and stopping to get a hamburger. She always kept a beautiful home and garden. She enjoyed decorating and celebrating at holiday times, and set a lovely dining table. Wanda was a founding member of Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, and for fifty years enjoyed volunteer work at the church with her many friends. She was proud of her Boston roots and Polish heritage and never lost the twinkle in her powder-blue eyes or her Boston accent. Wanda was smart, creative and beautiful and had an independent and confident spirit which inspired her daughter to become an attorney.
She was preceded in death by Paul, her husband of 44 years; by her brother and sisters Edward I. Gerus, Harriet (Bobbie) Cunningham Savickas and Stella (Jerry) Matuszek; and by her cousins Marilyn Karawacka, Roger Karawacki, Thomas J. Tanana and Veronica Murray. She is survived by her daughter, Paula Gail Payne; by her dearest friends Lee K. Boocker, Vicky and G.A. Gutmann, and Edith Smith; and by her nephews and nieces Bruce Cunningham, Paul Cunningham, James L. Cunningham, Jr., Geoff Cunningham, Eddie Gerus, Paul Gerus, Mary Ellen McLaughlin, Donald Allen Payne, Jr. and Linda Jean Stowe. To those of you who were so thoughtful and sent letters, cards or gifts to Wanda over the past several years, know that your kindness was so very much appreciated and always brightened her day.