Honoring Betty Czekalski’s Legacy

Betty Czekalski
Betty Czekalski

As a single mother of two young children, Betty Czekalski worked hard to support the family by growing food in her garden, raising chickens and cleaning homes. However, an unwavering belief in herself, an insatiable drive to provide a better life for her children and several supportive friends motivated Betty to do something more.

While working during the day, she completed schooling at the Weaver School of Real Estate, earning her real estate sales license and quickly gained the trust of the community to become a top Realtor in the area.

Five years later, in 1963, Betty still wanted to achieve more and started her own real estate company, now known as Czekalski Real Estate, Inc. Although the real estate profession was completely male-dominated at that time, her work ethic, business acumen and growing reputation for helping people enabled Czekalski Real Estate to flourish. Today, those strong ethics continue to guide Betty’s company as the fourth generation of family continues her legacy.

Humble as she was, Betty always attributed her success to being “a lucky duck.” Her personal mantra was to “treat people right and the business will take care of itself.”

After being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1965, her son Wally and his wife Janet joined the business. As the business grew and came to dominate the local real estate market, Betty, Wally and Janet never lost sight of their work ethic and compassion for people, qualities that are ingrained in the company to this day.

Betty ran the company until retiring at age 85. On November 22, 2009, at 91 years of age, Betty Czekalski, who broke the male-dominated glass ceiling in the real estate profession and helped countless families in the Alle-Kiski Valley, passed away.

In honor of the family matriarch, Wally & Janet Czekalski and their family established the Betty Czekalski Scholarship Fund with the AKH Foundation. According to Wally, “Our family can think of nothing better than to honor my mother by establishing a scholarship fund in her memory. Doing so will help young women get their start in business, something that fits my mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, as well as carrying on her lifelong practice of helping people.”

Others who wish to honor the memory of Betty Czekalski can make contributions to the scholarship fund at any time by contacting the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation. All such gifts will be directly added to the Betty Czekalski Scholarship Fund. The Czekalski family will receive notification of each contribution to the fund, although the amount of the contributions will NOT be included in the notifications.

The Betty Czekalski Scholarship program is an annual award designed for female students living in the Greater Alle-Kiski Valley, intent on furthering their education in a business-related field. High school seniors, as well as older women resuming their post-high school education, may apply for the $3,000 scholarship.

As with all scholarships administered through the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation, the awards are mailed directly to the school’s financial aid office.

To be eligible, female students need to follow the application guidelines on the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation’s website. Requirements include providing proof of acceptance to an accredited two-year or four-year academic institution along with official high school transcripts and submitting a 500-to-1,000-word essay. Financial need will also be an important factor in the selection process. For complete details, interested applicants are urged to log onto www.akhealth.org and follow the scholarship path.

In addition to the Betty Czekalski Scholarship Fund, the Foundation also administers the Helen Rakowski Bole Nursing Scholarship, the Helen Rakowski Bole Literary Scholarship, the Adolph Rzotkewicz Nursing Scholarship, the Robert & Jean Walsh Math & Science Scholarship, the Robert & Jean Walsh Humanities Scholarship, the Highlands Emergency Services Alliance Scholarship and the SBCCA Knoch & Freeport Senior Scholarship Program. A special scholarship program reserved for students pursuing programs in technical schools is being developed.