Jean Marie Rybak, age 88, of New Prague, died peacefully, surrounded by her family, with her beloved Irish music playing, early Sunday morning, February 19, 2017,  at Mayo Clinic Health Systems Hospital Rochester – St. Mary Campus.  Jean was born March 24, 1928, in Derrynane Township, Le Sueur County, MN to Ralph P. and Frances M. (Boeckmann) O’Connell.  She grew up in the St. Thomas area, attending a county district school and graduating from Le Center High School.  She attained her teaching certificate and taught in a one-room schoolhouse for several years before her marriage to Myles J. “Mike” Rybak on October 16, 1948, in St. Thomas.  After marriage, the couple moved to a farm for a short time and then into New Prague, where Jean would begin her long career with Queen of Peace Hospital.  Her love of children and babies led her to fostering many children in her home and also started her career in the nursery at Queen of Peace.  After many years in the nursery, she moved to the position of Ward Secretary, and then finally for the Community Relations Department until her retirement after 60 years of service.  Jean had a deep love for Queen of Peace Hospital and it was the foundation of her life as she and Mike spent many volunteer hours, in addition to her career, helping the nuns and the hospital wherever needed whether for tasks needed at the hospital itself or acting as chauffeur for the travel needs of the nuns.  After retirement, Jean continued her dedication to the hospital as a Queen of Peace Auxiliary member, where she worked at Peace Center for many years.  She was also a dedicated facilitator of Beginning Experience, a support group for divorced and widowed.  Jean’s interests were varied and often reflected her deep love of anything Irish, as she was extremely proud of her heritage.  She was very gregarious, enjoying dancing, singing, playing cards, antiquing, pontoon rides on Prior Lake, and socializing with her Seniors Group.  Jean was very much a “people person” and the life of the party with her family always the center of her world.

Jean is survived by her children, Randall Rybak of San Diego, CA, Sandra (Alan) Tietz of New Prague, Thomas (Susan) Rybak of Brooklyn, NY, Richard Rybak of Savage, Timothy (Lynn) Rybak of New Prague; foster daughter, Ramona (Brian) Krinhop of Prior Lake; brother, Paul (Marion) O’Connell of New Mexico; sister-in-law, Phyllis O’Connell of Burnsville; 14 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren.  She is preceded in death by her husband, Mike, on March 20, 1981; parents; brothers, Patrick and Michael O’Connell; sister, Ruth Tuma.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 9:30 AM at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church with Father Kevin Clinton officiating.  Visitation will take place on Wednesday from 4-8 PM and Thursday morning from 7:30-9:00 AM at Bruzek Funeral Home.  Burial will occur after Mass at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery with lunch following at the KC Hall.