In Memory of




Obituary for Ethel H. Woytek

On July 7, Ethel Helen (Dufallo) Woytek, age 96, beloved matriarch of her extended family, passed away peacefully at her home in Wyomissing, PA, from complications due to Covid.

Ethel was born on December 23, 1925, to Helen (Kalessar) and Joseph Dufallo, in Hazlebrook, PA, a coal mining hamlet now overgrown by weeds “where the road no longer goes.” She was the eighth of the Dufallos’ nine children. When she was 3 years old, her father was killed in a mining accident. Her then-pregnant mother and family faced immediate eviction from their four-room company-owned home unless the family sent another man to replace her father in the mine; her 16-year-old brother volunteered for the job.

While her immigrant parents could neither read nor write, Ethel reveled in learning and excelled in school. In seventh grade, she led her classmates in a student walkout, successfully protesting the combining of eight grades into a single classroom. When not occupied with chores like carrying water from the community pump and gathering and cracking chunks of coal from the waste piles to fuel the family stove, she also loved spending time with her friends and gathering blueberries on the local hills. Ethel graduated from Freeland High School in 1943 as class valedictorian. Although she was more than capable of becoming the teacher or nurse that she longed to be, given her financial circumstances, she instead helped support her mother and siblings by working in a shirt factory.

In 1951, Ethel married Joseph Woytek, an Army Air Force veteran who attracted her attention by picking her up in the factory parking lot in his brother’s shiny new green convertible. After her marriage, raising a family became Ethel’s primary focus.

Joe and Ethel initially made their home in Ebervale, where their three older daughters were born; but Joe’s first big career opportunity required him to transfer to the Prestolite Battery plant in Reading, PA. Ethel hated to leave her hometown friends and family in the coal region for an unknown future in Reading, but she built a rich life for herself and family. In addition to her family, she was also deeply involved in her parish church, Sacred Heart, where she served as a member of the parish’s Sacred Heart Society.

In the ensuing years, two more children were added to the Woytek clan. Ethel prepared every meal, making most desserts from scratch, and sewed clothes for herself and her daughters. She had a miraculous “green thumb”. As an indoor/outdoor horticulturalist, she managed to breathe life into plants that none of her children could salvage. Ethel also became an equal financial partner in the family. After her children began attending school full-time, Ethel worked as a sales associate at Wanamaker’s for many years. She was a master of discounts and coupons. There was no scamming Ethel—or evading advertised sale prices with fine print—when she was on an acquisition mission.

As the years passed and Joe traveled as a battery plant manager, Ethel joined him on trips to Hawaii, London and continental Europe. And, once the travel bug bit, the couple treated their children with unforgettable trips to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Russia, and Christmas in Paris, with Ethel keeping detailed travel journals along the way. They were blessed with five grandchildren, who came to know Ethel and Joe by their Slovak titles, Baba and Zeddo -- terms of endearment quickly adopted by the entire family.

Christmastime was always a special season for Ethel to showcase her talent and enthusiasm, especially for the benefit of her grandchildren. Each year she spent hours meticulously assembling “Ethelville” -- an ever-expanding Christmas village display with miniature structures, vehicles and inhabitants too numerous to count. For her signature Christmas Eve meal, she tirelessly rolled dough, cooked potatoes and cabbage, and pinched hundreds of pierogis. Having learned from the master, her children and grandchildren assumed pierogi-making duties in recent years, striving in vain to achieve Ethel’s perfectly thin, uniform pierogi dough.

Sadly, Joe died 14 years ago, shortly after he and Ethel moved into the new, senior-friendly home he had planned for them in a beautiful scenic setting. Ethel remained there, enjoying their legacy for the rest of her years, by herself, but never truly alone. She continued to enjoy family and friends and to celebrate her children’s, grandchildren’s and, eventually, great-grandchildren’s birthdays, christenings, weddings and graduations, as well as those of her neighbors and other friends. And those folks, in turn, attended to and celebrated with her throughout the years.

Ethel was preceded in death by her loving husband of 57 years, Joseph Woytek. She is survived by her five children: Mary Woytek (Craig Rice) of Rockville, MD; Patricia Woytek of Wayne, PA; Janice Woytek (Mark Calabria) of Devon, PA; Joanne Woytek of Laurel, MD; and Robert (Fr. Alexis) Woytek of Largo, FL; five grandchildren: Katy, Jessica, Michael, Eugenia and Melissa; and four great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, July 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m., in Sacred Heart Church. Burial will be in Gethsemane Cemetery. Friends may call Wednesday, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., with religious services at 8 p.m. in Edward J. Kuhn Funeral Home, Inc., West Reading. Online condolences may be recorded at

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ethel’s memory may be sent to Catholic Relief Services ( or the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters.