Historian connects Bay City family with the story of their WWII soldier relative

You can take her out of Bay City, but you can’t take Bay City out of Diane Condon-Boutier.

The author and World War II historian has lived in France for more than 25 years now but the Bay City native is coming home, and for a pretty special reason, too.

Condon-Boutier is bringing home the story of Bay City-native PFC Marion Janowicz, a member of the United States Army who died on Normandy’s Utah Beach during D-Day, June 6, 1944.

She was attending a 70th anniversary ceremony of the great battle, taking time to find and visit all of the headstones of those soldiers laid to rest from Bay City. One name in particular stood out. Janowicz. She knew a Janowicz back in Bay City.

A member of the Janowicz family eventually reached out to her, knowing about her life as a historian and tour guide in Normandy, and asked if she knew anything about their great uncle Marion Janowicz. Condon-Boutier confirmed the relationship and spent the next five years researching the brief life of Marion Janowicz, who died on Utah Beach at 19 years old.

Condon-Boutier found once-lost records, photos, and more.

"He has the sweetest face that only breaks your heart when you see it," she says.

Now she’s bringing home all of the information she’s gathered for an hour-long presentation at the City Market building on Friday, July 19. Condon-Boutier’s presentation will focus on the life of Janowicz. A remembrance ceremony will follow.

She says she’s not sure if this has ever been done before. Usually, a family goes to a historic site in Europe to learn about their relatives and not the other way around.

"In lieu of the family coming to Normandy, I’m going to bring Normandy to them," Condon-Boutier says.

"I’ll be giving a talk, discussing why his sacrifice was necessary, what he set out to do, what he did, and how he died. We want to make sure that his story doesn’t disappear and to keep it alive."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Signup for Email Alerts