By Alison Chodak
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
It was Feb. 2003, Jim Chodak and Corrie Streb were just coming home from an intense talk with Arthur Streb. They were sitting on the couch while Ann Chodak was doing the dishes. All of a sudden Corrie and Jim see a laser light wavering over the window outside for about a good 15 seconds. They look at each other and smile because they knew it was Margaret Streb. The fun aunt, the loving mother, and a wonderful contributor to the community.
Margaret Streb was born on August 15, 1950 which is the feast day of the Assumption of Mary. This is ironic because she was a Roman Catholic. Her original name was Margaret Ann Chodak and she was born into a loving family of John Chodak(father), Gertrude Chodak(mother), and Charles Chodak(brother). Growing up she had many nicknames and the most popular one was Margie. She also had a very fun childhood. According to Chuck, she and Chuck would play with their Uncle Steve's wooden leg and they would trade nickels for dimes. Chuck always ended up getting the dimes. All family and friend parties were held at her house. Having a party house is always fun and she enjoyed it.
Margaret attended grammar school at St. Stanislaus Kostka and attended high school at St. Agnes High School. She was very involved in many school activities. She was on the track and field team, she played volleyball, sang, and was very involved in Polish Falcons Nest 52. She would continue to be involved in Polish Falcons during her college and adult years. Margaret would also volunteer her time to teach Polish dancing for the club. During her adult years, she became the youth director of Polish Falcons Nest 52 because she loved her culture and being with children. According to Jim Chodak (Chuck and Christine's son), she signed him up to join the club as soon as he was born. She was very involved in the Polish community that everyone knew who Margaret Chodak was.
In her teenage years Chuck, married his now-deceased wife, Christine Blaszkowski. Margaret and Christine had a wonderful relationship. According to Jim Chodak, Margaret chose Christine as her matron of honor in her wedding, and Margie didn't have much family that was near her age so Christine was like the sister she never had. When her first nephew, Jim Chodak, was born, Margie took a liking to Jim. According to him, she would teach him how to sing "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" and "Suzy Snowflake." Jim remembers her always playing musical instruments. He says, "She had bongos, organs and a guitar. She would always play records and she was a fun aunt."
Margaret attended college at Rochester Business Institute working with computers, which was new at the time. In 1973, she would get married to Arthur Streb, officially becoming Margaret Ann Streb. Soon after, a baby was born. This was Corrie Streb, who is now Corrie Shavron, and she was the light of Margaret's world. Corrie and Margaret had a close bond. When Corrie got in trouble, Margaret didn't want Corrie to be mad at her and hated upsetting Corrie. She loved Corrie and made sure family came first. She made sure Corrie came first. According to Shavron, "My mom took off four years of work to be with me. She would take care of me and love me no matter what." She loved Corrie so much that she ended up coaching basketball for Holy Cross.
Later in her life, Margaret and Arthur Streb separated. Margaret made sure Corrie had a good relationship with her father even though, they weren't together anymore. Margaret went to some therapy or counseling and focused on taking care of Corrie and her dog, Aljahbar. Margaret got Aljahbar around 1990 when Arthur was in the Persian Gulf War. This was when they were still together and Aljahbar was a safety net for her and Corrie. They felt safe with him. So, she would spend her time taking care of Corrie, her family, Aljahbar, and going on retreats. According to her daughter, she was into spa retreats and showing her artistic talents. Margie would go to these retreats to learn more about herself and this helped when she was going through the divorce.
Apparently, Margaret wouldn't cook. According to Ann Chodak, Jim's wife, Margaret would only cook chili. That was her famous dish to pass. It's funny because her mother would cook and she is part of a Polish family. Polish ladies know how to cook, but Margaret knew how to make chili.
In 2001, Margaret was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer, which was hard for everyone around her. It was especially hard for Corrie who was only 20 when Margaret was diagnosed. Corrie made sure she took care of her mother.
Margaret made sure she would live her life to the fullest after being diagnosed. She would spend a lot of time with family, especially with the younger kids. According to Corrie, she loved babies. She loved holding them and being with them. She had quite a few of great nieces and nephews to play with. Margaret battled through chemo for two years and fought hard to survive.
On Feb. 10, 2003, Margaret passed away. She fell asleep peacefully in her hospital bed and left a legacy behind. Corrie had a hard time with her mother passing. She says, "It's like a security blanket is gone or your home base is gone when she died."
Corrie said that if she was alive now, Margaret would be very active on Facebook and would be in her grandkid's life 24/7. She would be focusing on her spiritually and mentally. She would also be travelling around the world and posting it on Facebook. Jim Chodak says if she was alive now, she would've been a part of every holiday festivity. She would've been a fantastic grandmother and helped take care of Christine when she was sick.
Margaret was a very loving and caring person. She would've changed the Chodak family for the better because she is a tough and warmhearted person. She would put her family first and love seeing her daughter grow into a strong, beautiful and independent woman. Margaret Streb will always be remembered as a fun-loving, creative and courageous person.
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