Long-time Homewood business owner Bernadine “Suzie” Sierzega died unexpectedly on Oct. 6. She was 76.
For 49 years, Mrs. Sierzega and her husband, Fred, owned and operated Suzie’s Hallmark, first on Ridge Road and then at an expanded location at 18065 Harwood Avenue.
Before they met, she asked about taking over a small card store in her parents neighborhood. She told the Chronicle in 2021 that that “planted the seed” for her desire to own a store. The couple met in Chicago after Fred returned from military service. They both wanted to own a business and decided to locate in Homewood and open a Hallmark store.
Suzie’s Hallmark took the Ridge Road location first occupied by Joe Aurelio after he opened his restaurant in a new location on Harwood Avenue. In 2001, the Hallmark business moved to a bigger store on Harwood. The couple also owned a Hallmark store in Olympia Fields for 16 years.
Mrs. Sierzega loved the interaction with her customers and the happy times she shared with them. She would see customers come into the store not just for cards, but to create their Hallmark holiday villages from Hallmark’s specially designed displays of make believe stores and houses with coordinated landscaping and lighting.
The couple closed the Hallmark business in 2021 to spend more quality time together and with family. Suzie and Fred Sierzega were married for 52 years. She is also survived by their son, Brian, and two granddaughters.
Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at Tews-Ryan Funeral Home, 18230 Dixie Highway in Homewood.