Life Story for Bronia S. Wheeler (Sielewicz)
Bronia Sielewicz Wheeler, of Weston, MA, passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully, in her sleep on March 15, 2017 after a short illness. She was 91 years old, and had battled Alzheimer's disease since 2007.
Born in Franklin, NH in 1925 to Polish immigrants and millworkers Bronislaw and Ludwika (Slonina) Sielewicz, Bronia grew up in Newport, NH. She graduated as class president from Boston University in 1947, also earning her MA in English and American Literature in 1948.
Bronia was an accomplished actress and teacher. She performed three times on Broadway (as ‘Bronia Stefan’), including as understudy to Anne Bancroft in the original ‘The Miracle Worker,’ and later starring as Annie Sullivan in the Australian tour in 1962.
She performed numerous times Off-Broadway and at regional theatres (Guthrie, Arena Stage, Antioch Shakespeare Festival, Brattle Theatre, Poets’ Theatre, Sharon Playhouse, Hedgerow, Lake Sunapee Playhouse), and at the American Repertory Theatre (ART) in the 1990's. On television, she acted in several dramatic specials in the 1950’s for CBS’s ‘Alcoa Hour’ and NBC’s ‘Camera Three’ and ‘Catholic Hour.’
After college, she taught English at Towle High School in Newport, NH and at Cambridge School of Weston. She taught acting throughout her career, until the age of 82, at Harvard Extension School and elsewhere.
She was married in 1964 to the late David F. Wheeler (2012), theatre director and teacher, who founded Theatre Company of Boston (TCB), where Bronia and David worked together for over a decade.
A devoted mother, she is survived by her son Lewis D. Wheeler and his partner Amanda Collins of Boston. Bronia is also survived by her sister-in-law Joyce Sielewicz of Newport, NH and nephews Michael Sielewicz of Newport, NH and David Walther of Roslindale, MA and his husband Drew Hubbard.
She was predeceased by her brother, Edwin Sielewicz, sister-in-law Janet Wheeler, and nephew Capt. David Sielewicz, USAF.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, March 28 at St. John the Evangelist Church, Wellesley Hills, MA at 10 o’clock. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Visiting hours are Monday, March 27 from 3:30-7:30PM at the Henry J. Burke and Sons Funeral Home, 56 Washington St (Rte 16), Wellesley Hills, MA. Interment will be private for the family. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bronia's memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org/manh/ or to the Jewish Family & Children’s Service at www.jfcsboston.org.