Gardening 06


April 1, 1937 ~ June 12, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old
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Rosalind "Roz" Gwozdz, 86, of Westfield, MA passed away peacefully on June 12th, 2023, after a brief illness. Roz was born Rosalind Cecilia Larkin in Waterbury, CT on April 1st, 1937, and grew up in Milford, CT where her childhood home was a five minute walk to the beach, igniting her love of the ocean.

She spent most of her adult life in Westfield where she raised her family. Roz leaves two children, Linda Elgin, of West Springfield, Brian Gwozdz, of Westfield, and her unofficially adopted son Billy Strycharz, of Steamboat Springs, CO. Also, two grandchildren, Ethan Elgin, of West Springfield and Rowan Lott, of Austin, TX. She also leaves her sister Patricia "Pat" Zurko and brother, Richard "Tony" Larkin, both of CT. Along with many nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind her little terrier mix Lacey, whom she adored beyond words. She is predeceased by her parents, Harold Larkin and Rosalind Larkin, and two brothers, Theodore "Ted" Larkin and Henry "Benny" Larkin.

Roz attended schools in Milford and Waterbury, CT before moving to Westfield as a young bride. Then her life focused on being a devoted mom to her daughter and son. She was known for the immense love she had for her entire family. As her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews grew up she made sure to keep in touch with all of them. In later years, this also included many of her grandnieces and grandnephews. She was "Aunt Roz" to them all. Mornings often started off with an uplifting message from Roz. It was signed by "Mom," "Nana" or "Aunt Roz," as she was affectionately known by the younger generations of her extended family.

She worked as a bank teller at Third National Bank in Westfield for many years, and also as a membership coordinator at the Westfield YMCA. At 50, she returned to school where she graduated Valedictorian from the X-Ray Technology program at Holyoke Community College. After graduating she worked as an X-Ray Technologist at Holyoke Hospital, and later worked for Dr. Robert White in Westfield. Roz was not one to ever fully retire, however. She had always been an enthusiastic bibliophile, and in her mid 60s she developed an affinity for buying and selling antiquarian books. She soon specialized in selling manuscripts, and diaries in particular. She engaged in this labor of love well into her 80s, during which time she worked directly with many well known auction houses such as New England Book Auctions in South Deerfield, Swann Galleries in NYC, and Pacific Book Auction Galleries in Berkeley, CA.

Roz was not only an animal lover, but also a dedicated animal advocate. She had many a dog and cat companion over the course of her lifetime, along with an assortment of other furry friends including a rabbit, a guinea pig, even a snake and an iguana. This deeply caring animal lover was the unofficial neighborhood veterinarian to whom neighbors would bring a variety of distressed wildlife. It was not unusual to see Roz walking around while cradling an orphaned baby squirrel and feeding it with an eye dropper. When the Westfield Animal Shelter first opened, she immediately began volunteering there and after a few years she adopted her beloved little terrier mix Lacey from the same shelter.

She leveraged her generous heart and giving spirit in service to others in countless ways throughout her life. She also volunteered for many years for the Westfield hospice, for whom she visited terminally ill patients, offering them much needed warmth, comfort, and kindness. To say that Roz had an adventurous spirit and a zest for life is an understatement. She loved the outdoors and enjoyed numerous activities such as hiking, camping, and running in her younger years. She went on several ocean cruises and also loved motorcycling. Starting out on a Suzuki 50cc which she rode back and forth to work, she eventually moved up to a BMW 650cc. This was her favorite mode of transportation for many years, which she rode hither, thither and yon to far-flung places such as Canada.

Every summer for over forty years she vacationed on Cape Cod with her family. There she would often be found walking the sandbars and tidal pools on the bay side of the Outer Cape for hours on end. Each trip would include time spent wandering around at the Wellfleet Flea Market and an excursion into Provincetown, which she loved. Roz also fondly reminisced about a vacation she took years ago with her extended family including her beloved sister Pat, to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they stayed in a fabulous luxury villa which boasted the largest private in-ground pool on the island.

Perhaps above all else, Roz was a deeply spiritual person and practiced mindfulness and meditation long before they were in vogue. She maintained a long-term relationship with the Insight Meditation Community of Western Mass in Easthampton, and the Genesis Spiritual Life Center in Westfield, where she co-founded various groups. Her spiritual journey included meditation retreats at places such as the Insight Meditation Society in Barre and the Vipassana Meditation Center in Shelburne Falls, where she attended multiple 10-day silent retreats. Roz also had a deep and abiding affection for those struggling with addiction, and actively participated in the local recovery community for years where she was a beloved figure.

Anyone who knew Roz, knew she was good natured and had a tremendous sense of humor. An endearing, yet funny story about this wonderful lady happened at the dawn of the fax machine. It's a story she always told while struggling to hold back her laughter over what she had done. Her employer at the time asked her to fax something that was confidential. So, she put the document in a sealed envelope before putting it through the fax machine. The people on the receiving end got a picture of an envelope. Although, it was duly noted to her boss that it was marked "confidential." She loved to laugh and share stories that uplifted the spirits of others. Her personality and laughter filled the room like no other.

Roz spent the last chapter of her life thoroughly enjoying her home in Hampden Village where she regularly rode her bicycle, swam in the heated pool, lovingly tended to her garden, fed the birds and outdoor critters religiously, and walked Lacey each and every day. Even at 85, after bringing Lacey home she would put on her headphones and dart out the door once again, walking the neighborhood at her signature brisk pace for another couple of miles.

Roz was a true force of nature who will be sorely missed by many, especially her family and friends whose lives she so deeply touched and profoundly enriched. The family requests that those who wish to express sympathy consider making a donation to their favorite animal-related charity in Roz's name.

All services for Roz are private.  Westfield Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 4 Princeton St, Westfield, MA 01085  has been entrusted with end of life arrangements.  To express condolences to the family and to share photos or memories please visit Roz’s memorial page at      

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