An infectious smile, a personality that lit up a room and the ability to bring people together.
Those were among the qualities of Julie Gorczynski, whose life was cut short Friday, June 10, . Gorczynski, from Frankfort, graduated from Lincoln-Way North with a B average just a week prior, at the age of 17. She would have been 18 on Thursday, June 16.
“Who would know that she'd graduate on one Friday and die on the next Friday?” Pamela Gorczynski, Julie's mother, said.
While Julie's life was short, it was one filled with friends, family and fun. Her five siblings, Brian, 26; Rich, 24; Amanda, 22; Nick, 21; and Matthew, 9, said Julie always had a smile on her face and was ready with a joke.
“I'll never forget that smile. There's really not words for it,” Nick said.
Julie's parents said that Julie was very fashion-conscious while growing up. Julie had 32 pairs of shoes when she was just 2 years old, and she would change up to four times a day as a child—something she never grew out of. Pamela added that Julie was always borrowing clothes from friends and enjoyed shopping.
Richard Gorczynski, Julie's father, said Julie was an easy child to raise, adding that he never had to reprimand her. Pamela said that although Julie was an easygoing child and a delight to raise, chores were something that Julie often begged out of with her smile.
“I'd tell her to clean her room or something and she'd just wave it off and say, 'Pish posh,'” Pamela said, laughing. "She was just like that—very easygoing."
The family often took summer vacations together to Florida and Disney World, and it was there that Julie found her "ride buddy," Nick. No matter the ride, Nick and Julie would sit together, enjoying not only their time together but the twists and turns of any amusement park ride.
“She loved roller coasters. She wasn't afraid of them—or anything—really,” Nick said.
Julie recently began working at Marcus Theatres in Orland Park, where Pamela said her daughter really blossomed. She said that once Julie got the job, there was a new world of socialization that opened to her.
"She loved that job, she loved all the people there, all her friends," Amanda Gorczynski added.
One look at Julie's Facebook page makes it easy to see all the lives she touched, Pamela said. A flood of updates, memories and well wishes have poured in from people who knew Julie. From her family members who knew her best, to those she met only once or twice, the outpouring is a glimpse into knowing and appreciating Julie.
Her family didn't realize how much they shared her with the world.
“We never really thought about it, because we always thought of her as 'our Julie,' ” Pamela said, “but really she was everyone's Julie.”
The Gorczynski family will hold a wake for those wishing to pay respects on Tuesday, June 14, at Kurtz Memorial Chapel, 65 Old Frankfort Way, Frankfort. A funeral will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church, 19515 S. 115th Ave., Mokena, on Wednesday, June 15, at 10 a.m. Julie will be interred at St. John's Cemetery in Mokena.