Stefania Zacharska (25 November 1906 – 11 September 2016) was a Polish centenarian, citizen of Tarnowskie Góry, who at the age of 109 was the second oldest living person in Silesia Voivodeship and the 3rd oldest known living person in Poland behind supercentenarians: Jadwiga Szubartowicz and Tekla Juniewicz. She is also the second oldest person in the history of Silesia Voivodeship.
Stefania Zacharska was born on 25 November 1906 in Stanisławów. Her father - Edward Zacharski, was railway officer and later also a director of the Stanisławowska Land Bank. Her younger brother Mieczyslaw died in the September Campaign, near Lwów, after Soviet Empire invaded Poland in 1939. Mother, Stanisława Zacharska nee Styczyńska (1881–1963), came from the lesser nobility and never worked professionally. She ran home and raised the children.
At the time she was seven, Stefania Zacharska went to a primary school. After four years of high school, she continued her education at the Ursuline Sisters' gimnazjum and then, she attended the three-year seminar in Rybnik Crafts Teachers, also run by the Ursuline Sisters. The school was famous for its highest level, and was considered as providing the best conditions for development. In the post World War II period, the country lacked of qualified teachers and especially teachers of the vocational subjects. Stefania Zacharska graduated from seminary studies after passing the matriculation examination and a test to verify the practical and professional skills. In order to be entitled to vocational education and technology, a candidate had to take two years of professional practice and teaching. Stefania Zacharska conducted the practice in the Laboratory of the University of Applied Sciences in Lwów, Poland. After graduating as teacher, Ms. Zacharska started working in Mrs. Pietraszkiewicz's Private Gymnasium in Vilnius, Poland. Education in middle school for youth lasted six years in those times. Ms. Zacharska taught at Benedictine High School, located also in Vilnius. In both schools, she worked as a teacher of practical classes. In 1938, she began to prepare for the qualifying examination which would allow her to work also in public schools as a certified teacher. In the period before the outbreak of WW II, she worked in Żółkiew near Lwów. Until the outbreak of the German-Soviet War, Stefania Zacharska still worked in Żółkiew as a manger of nursery because she had to make for a living and to help the family. It was a period of deportations to Siberia and hunting for intelligence and bourgeois. Miraculously, she managed to survive and avoid deportation. During the German occupation, she also worked to survive and hoped not to be deported, this time to work in Germany. Also, she had to hide the fact that she was a teacher. In July 1941, in Stanisławów, the nazi executed 360 people - the elite of Stanisławów intelligence: professors, doctors, lawyers... Stefania Zacharska's life was endangered, yet she still participated actively in the secret teaching.
In 1944, in the fear of being deported to Siberia by Soviets, Stefania moved in with her sister Zofia and her husband's family to the West, to Tyczyn near Rzeszów, in order to survive the passage of the front there. Immediately after the war, in 1945, she came to Tarnowskie Góry, where her sister Zofia had lived before the war. There, Stefania Zacharska started working in the emerging Clothing School, initially even without being paid. Later, she was engaged as a full-time teacher. Her mother remained in Stanisławów and they weren't able to see each other until Stalin's death when the borders (though, only the eastern borders) became passable. These were very hard times. There lacked everything. Trains were full of repatriants from the East who eventually had the opportunity to return to the fatherland. Stefania Zacharska and her family lacked everything: food, medicines, materials and fuel. Everything was based on continuous improvisation and self-initiative, yet the joy of regained freedom and hope for improvement gave the people courage. The school also missed almost everything. Using her old contacts, Stefania Zacharska travelled to Łódź - much greater and more important city, Polish clothing center. There she was able to get some materials and machinery for her school in Tarnowskie Góry, where she has worked for many years, until her retirement in 1965. Even then, she worked part-time until 1972.
The headship of Tarnowskie Góry sewing school always remembers about the notable teacher. Each year, Stefania Zacharska was visited by the delegation of the school. On Nov. 25, 2015, she celebrated 109th birthday and was named the oldest living person in Silesia Voivodeship (although Tekla Juniewicz was older). Stefania Zacharska died of natural causes on Sept. 11, 2016 and was buried in St. Anna cemetery in Tarnowskie Góry.
Stefania Zacharska had two sisters who also reached the centenarian status and died at the ages of 102 and 100.