Getting a first date with Julia Pszczolkowski wasn’t too difficult for Robbert Worrell.
After all, he was driving her dream car.
After moving to Egg Harbor Township from New York 40 years ago, Pszczolkowski — who died at 64 on July 6 after a long battle with cancer — did everything she could to help her new hometown. She worked as a teacher in the township’s school district, as an emergency medical technician with its rescue squad, as a clerk and mayor’s assistant at Township Hall, and as a volunteer with the Scullville Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary.
But there was one thing she still always wanted: a 1979 Corvette.
When Worrell met Pszczolkowski seven years ago, he told his future fiancee he would help her.
“She told me she always wanted a Corvette. I looked at her and said, ‘Let’s go get one,’” he said. “She looked at me like I had two heads.”
After searching online, Worrell found a 1979 Corvette in Salem, N.H. The couple picked it up, and Worrell spent years refurbishing it. But Pszczolkowski declined to drive it on her own until it was ready.
Then one day, Worrell drove to Clayton J. Davenport Elementary School and switched the newly finished car into her parking spot.
“The look on her face was perfect. Her hands went to her face, and she went over to the car and was crying,” he said. “She gave me a hug and a kiss. She then took off, and I didn’t see her for an hour or so. It was her car. She wanted it for 30 years.”
Pszczolkowski’s daughter Michelle D’Arcangelo said 400 to 500 people showed up at the funeral — not a surprise for a woman who knew everyone in town, she said.
“Being a teacher, she always wanted to help her community and talk to people,” she said. “Everything she did was for her town. She lived here. Everything she did was for Egg Harbor Township.”
Wendy Housand, Pszczolkowski’s friend and president of the fire company’s auxiliary, said Pszczolkowski loved doing stuff to help people.
When Pszczolkowski joined the auxiliary, she kept the same passion she had for her other projects. Housand said she would often respond to a fire in the middle of the night and provide refreshments to the firefighters. She also coordinated the annual haunted hayride at Fleming’s Junkyard in Scullville.
Through all the activities, D’Arcangelo said her mother built a lasting legacy in the township.
And there’s also the Corvette, which Worrell said he will keep local.
“I’m keeping the car,” he said. “I built it for her. To me, that car is priceless.”
A Life Lived appears Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Contact Joel Landau:
Follow @landaupressofac on Twitter