This story was originally published in the Fall 2022 Communiqué.
Mary’s Falenczykowski Tanghe’s ’62 grandparents were immigrants from Poland and Czechoslovakia. Mary’s father, Casimir, learned English when he was eight years old. He was determined to succeed in America and his dream was to fly airplanes. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, hoping to become a pilot. However, he didn’t have the needed educational background from his small country school, so he was not selected for pilot training. So instead, he served as an aviation radio operator and upon his discharge from the service he was able to take flying lessons and become a licensed pilot on his own time. Casimir achieved his dream when he was hired by Northwest Airlines in 1942, shortly after his marriage to Susan Sestak.
On his way home from that early interview at Northwest Airlines (NWA), he and a friend drove west down a dirt road called 66th Street. As he and his friend approached Nicollet Avenue, he noticed a stately and beautiful building that seemed to grow right up out of the corn fields. As he looked at its beautiful front façade and the fledgling trees on the front lawn, he asked his friend what the building was. His friend replied that it was a newly built all-girls Catholic school called The Academy of the Holy Angels. Casimir’s response to his friend was “If I ever have a daughter. I will send her there.”
Mary was born in 1944. The Falenzykowskis raised their five children in Richfield, a stone’s throw away from where Casimir made that promise. All five of the children attended St. Peter’s Catholic Grade School, and Mary went on to attend Holy Angels Academy.
Casimir became one of the first 747 captains for Northwest Airlines. The cockpit of one of those first NWA 747’s that he flew is now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space.
Mary, the oldest, excelled at school, having a keen eye and plenty of ability in the sciences. She graduated in the AHA Class of 1962. Mary benefitted from the education she received at AHA and from the excellence of her wonderful, talented teachers, including Sister Irenaeus, Sister Mary Aloysius, and Sister Marie Richard.
After high school, Mary went to the College of St. Catherine and later to the University of Minnesota Medical School. Both Mary and husband Jan were medical doctors and worked together for many years. Mary was a general practitioner and Jan a gastroenterologist. They raised six boys in Edina.
The Mary Falenczkowski Tanghe ’62 and Jan Tanghe Scholarship
In the fall of 2022, Mary and Jan visited Holy Angels to set up a need-based scholarship to help high-need students from Blessed Trinity Grade School who, without financial support, could not afford the tuition at AHA. Their gift will provide significant financial support annually for five Holy Angels students. Mary and Jan have asked the AHA scholarship committee to be on the lookout for students who they themselves (or whose parents) prioritize a service career in disability services, the military, law enforcement, fire fighters, first responders, or health care.
The Jan and Mary Falenczykowski Tanghe’s ’62 Scholarship is one of over 35 named scholarships that provide much-needed financial assistance to support even more Stars.
For a complete list of Academy of Holy Angels named scholarships, click HERE.