WILLIAMS BAY — For 63 years, the lives and love of Edward Cygan and Anna Marie Cygan were tightly intertwined.
They raised a family of five children together, and ran businesses in Chicago and Williams Bay.
And when Ed died on July 9, Anna Marie closely followed, passing away exactly one week later.
Daughter Cindy Cygan of Sacramento, California, said it was a comfort to have her parents pass away together in such a short time.
“It was amazing to watch, but sad, too,” Cindy said.
Son Tony Cygan, also of Sacramento and the eldest of the children, said his father and mother doted on each other.
“For me, they just enjoyed being around each other and were always kissing and holding hands,” Tony said. “I think part of it was their personalities. They both loved to laugh and have fun together.”
But they could not be together during their final two days together on Earth. Ed and Anna Marie had to communicate by smartphone and Kindle.
Daughter Nancy Lazansky of Walworth, the youngest of the family, said her mother was unstable on her feet and needed to walk with either a cane or a walker.
On July 7, she fell and injured herself. She was taken to the hospital.
Ed stayed at home. He did not travel much the last two years of life, because he was suffering from a particularly cruel form of Alzheimer’s that limited his ability to talk and get around, Nancy said.
Cindy said she bought her parents a Kindle for Christmas 2018. The electronic device is usually used to read books, but it also has a communications app.
“It was the best 50 bucks I ever spent,” she said.
Using a smartphone at home, one of the siblings would dial up the Kindle for Ed. He and Anna Marie were able see each other on the Kindle and smartphone screens and talk to each other, Cindy said.
Ed could not say much, but he would roll his eyes and blow kisses, Nancy said.
Anna Marie would tease him.
“Talk to me, Ed. Come on, talk to me,” she would say.
She was in the hospital for five days.
Sadly, on July 9, two days before Anna Marie was to come home, Ed, the love of her life, passed away.
Anna Marie had a sad homecoming. Family and hospice caregivers who had attended Ed were waiting to provide support for Anna Marie when she received news of her husband’s passing.
“When she got home, that’s when we sat her down and explained things about dad,” Cindy said.
Instead of an emotional outpouring of grief, her mother just looked up and said: “Am I OK? Am I OK?” Cindy said she had a feeling that her mom was looking up and speaking to Ed.
After that, her mother said hardly anything and ate hardly anything except some yogurt or cottage cheese.
Cindy said she was privileged to be with her father during his last two and a half hours, and she was with her mother when she passed away as well.
She said she slept in the same room as her mother.
Anna Marie passed away on July 16.
“When I woke, she was leaving the world,” Cindy said.
It happened swiftly, but all of the family were able to gather around and say goodbye.
Edward J. Cygan and Anna Marie Olson met in Chicago.
Edward was born in Chicago on Aug. 30, 1931, to Thomas J. and Josephine (Wesolowski) Cygan. Ed was a veteran of the Korean War, where he served in the U.S. Army in special intelligence.
Anna Marie Olson was born to Sam and Anna (Osmundson) Olson on a farm in Marshall County, South Dakota. She was the youngest of 13 children. She moved to Chicago where she took jobs with Ma Bell and Motorola.
Cygan’s parents owned a hall called Harmony House, and later Harmony Hall, which catered to wedding receptions. Edward, who played the accordion and sang, often performed there with a band.
According to Tony, the family story is that while at Harmony Hall, Ed heard Anna Marie laugh and told his friends, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
They dated for about nine months before marrying in 1956.
Before she married, Anna Marie was something of a traveler. She and a friend visited Las Vegas, where they were treated to a sidewalk serenade by the Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
Later, while she and her friend were dining out, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis wanted their table. They waited for the women to finish their meal, and then paid the bill.
Anna Marie wrote a book about her experiences and completed it just before she died. Nancy said a former caregiver is now typing up the manuscript.
In 1973, Ed and Anna Marie bought the Bay Side Lodge in Williams Bay.
In addition to operating the Bay Side Lodge and Harmony Hall, Ed was also a salesman, selling everything from cars to vacuum cleaners. He was also a bartender at the former Interlaken Resort.
Anna Marie waitressed at the Chef’s Corner in Williams Bay.
Harmony Hall was sold in 1990 and is now a church, Nancy said. The Bay Side was torn down to make way for condominiums.
Ed had given up his accordion for several years, but when he finally retired 20 years ago, he returned to his music. He joined accordion clubs in Milwaukee and Chicago and played at retirement communities and town festivals, Tony said.
Edward and Anna Marie Cygan are survived by their five children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Cygan family is scattered around the country, with Nancy in Wisconsin, sister Karen Widd and brother Edward Cygan Jr. in Illinois, and Tony and Cindy in California.
But Cindy said their home in Williams Bay was always a rallying point for the family.
“That’s our home,” she said of her parents’ Williams Bay house, just a block east of Yerkes Observatory. “We spent 46 years there.”