Donald James Plefka
Harry Ronald Cecora


Born May 6, 1931


Don 2008

Don & Parents

In May of 1931 Sylvia went to Evangelical Deaconess Hospital in Chicago to deliver her baby. It was premature and still-born. It was not the first. She had at least two children, Robert and Joseph, Jr, that did not survive birth previous to this.  While there, she became aware that there was a boy, born on May 6 who was available for adoption. Joe and Sylvia Plefka contacted Catholic Charities for their help. She wanted that child, and only that child. Consent of the child's mother was obtained and on June 5, Joe and Sylvia brought the child home. Two days later he was baptized Donald James Plefka. On February 2, 1932 an Adoption Decree was issued by the Cook County Court formerly declaring that Harry Ronald Cecora was officially Donald James Plefka. and legally the adopted child of Sylvia and Joe Plefka. These records were sealed according to State law.

Joseph Charles Plefka was the youngest of three brothers born in Chicago in 1899 of Bohemian Immigrant parents. Sylvia Mildred Simousek, born in 1903, was second generation Bohemian, the youngest of three sisters followed by two half brothers. She also had two step brothers. Donald was not told of his adoption and was raised an only child. Joe worked in the offices of The People's Gas Company and in later years in the sales of telephone and electrical equipment by manufacturers. Sylvia supplemented the family income working for small printing companies. Joe loved fishing, a sport never appreciated by Don. Joseph struggled with heart problems and succumbed to them on the 29th of December on 1952 while Don was in the Navy.

Don attended Catholic grade schools and St Leo Catholic High School. For a while he caddied at Beverly Country Club and worked at the Rheem Manufacturing Company. He attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for one year and returned to Rheem .for a short time. He worked as clerk in the offices of the Rock Island RR for a year before enlisting in the Navy in .1951. At the end of his enlistment in 1955 Don Plefka and Anne Marie Lawler were married.

Dan was born in '56, Anne Marie in '58 and Tom in '63. It was while pregnant with Tom that Anne, while talking with a new neighbors who had lived near Don's parents in the 30's,learned that Don had been adopted. A relative who worked in the County offices obtained (illegally) a copy of the Adoption Decree. Don's original name was revealed, but nothing else. Don's adopted mother was never told that her secrete was out. Don was her only help in her old age and she was not to be made to feel insecure. It was after Sylvia's death in 1992 that Don revealed to his cousins that he was adopted (Some already knew) and in 1994 on a guess, he contacted Catholic Charities asking for information. They would only reveal his birth mother's first and middle name (Florence Lucile), his date and place of birth and little else. Efforts to find ay trace of Florence Lucile Cecora in the Chicago area were fruitless.

After working for a year as a draftsman at Western Electric Company, Don got a job as a draftsman for Kelso-Burnett Co, a large electrical contractor. At first he worked in the evenings at a second job to make ends meet. Anne's job was to raise the kids. He advanced to Vice President and member of the Board of Directors before retiring in 1996. 

In the year 2000, Anne was born to eternal life. By this time there were nine grandchildren. In 2006, one of the grandchildren asked about the family genealogy. That sparked interest in the subject and the Adoption Database was contacted on the internet. Within a week Don was in contact with Jim & Peggy Cecora of Cleveland. Visits were exchanged and Don's natural mother's family was revealed. Ken Cecora was deceased by this time. Application was made to the State of Illinois to release the sealed birth records and in September the record was received and Don's natural father was reviled to be Alden J Copeland of Cleveland. Peggy made contact with Alden's children who were reluctant to believe they had a half brother but after a copy of the birth record was shared the fact was accepted and Don again went to Cleveland for a reunion, meeting the surviving children of his father. Joan had recently died but he was lovingly received by Rita, Irene, John and Marilyn along with members of their families.

Don Plefka, aka Harry Cecora now has a great-grandchild and four families. There is his immediate family of his children, their spouses and their parents, grand and great-grand children along with Anne's family. There is his adopted cousins' families, his Copeland family, and his Cecora family. Don looked for his roots and found a splendid forest. He also found acceptance, love and knowledge of wonderful ancestors. He is blessed.