The long journey from Russia to Rockton


Rockton resident Cathy Suchowski looks back on her parents' years in Russia and her life growing up in Argentina.

Cathy Suchoski is a kind, unassuming wife, mother and grandmother.  From Buddy Poppies to Quilts of Valor to the Brandon Rowe Memorial, both Cathy and her husband Ed are very active in the Roscoe VFW. They live a quiet life in Rockton where they have raised four children and welcomed several grandchildren.

Cathy's family background is a different story.

Cathy was not born in America; rather, she was born in a German DP (displaced person) camp in Argentina near the end of World War II. “They were not prisoners but rather they were among the refugees moving from camp to camp.”

Both parents were fleeing Communism. Her mother was from Siberia, her father from Ukraine. “People were running away, trying to get out.”

Thousands of refugees walked to the camps in Poland, Italy and Austria. Some were transported by cattle car.

Her parent met and were married in Austria. Her brother Valeri was born in the Austrian DP camp.

Her mother, Pauline Zintschenko, worked in the camp kitchen. Cathy’s father, Wesley Korsh, did whatever work he could find around the camp.

The couple was transferred to another camp in Italy and eventually ended up in Argentina. Other refugees were sent to countries around the world, including Australia and Brazil.

“It was near the end of the war, their names were on a list to leave, but they had no idea where they were going.”

From the bitter cold of Russia to the heat of Argentina: it was an entirely different climate and a different culture.

The family lived in Argentina until Cathy was 10 years old, her brother, 14.

“Dad told us we were coming to America for a vacation. He got a job here, so we stayed.”

They moved to Freeport in 1961. After years of living in Argentina, the weather was very different. “There was lots of snow and cold. I liked walking back and forth to school in the snow.”

The family moved to an ethnic community in Chicago for 2 ½ years, where they were surrounded by people from Ukraine, Poland and Russia. “It was a melting pot there,” Cathy said.

In 1970, the family came to Rockford. Her sister Tania Korsh was born there.

Cathy graduated from West High School. She attended Rock Valley College, where she met her future husband, Ed Suchoski, also a student at Rock Valley College. Ed had recently returned from active duty in Vietnam, where he served from 1966 to 1970. They were married in 1972.

“We stayed in Rockford for the next 15 years and raised four children. Ed worked at Amerock. When he retired, we moved to Rockton.”

Cathy speaks Russian, Spanish and English. “I still have friends in Argentina. There are times when I miss living there. We have a deep connection... I have gone back to visit twice.”

“I have cousins in Russia and Ukraine. They are all suffering.”

“America is a great country. My heart belongs to Tango Country (Argentina) and my soul belongs in America.”

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