Resident and former mechanical engineer finds passion in construction project at The Danish Home of Chicago

Our careers may be over when we retire, but for one resident, her passion and love for her past profession still lights a fire in her even at the ripe age of 93. This individual’s unwavering love for her work as a mechanical engineer has found a new outlet as she closely observes the construction project at The Danish Home of Chicago.

Danuta Eriksen has been a resident at The Danish Home of Chicago for 7 years, moving to the senior living community in March of 2017. Born in Denmark, Danuta has had a miraculous life journey, moving with her parents to Poland when she was just 10 years old, and living out her childhood during the second World War.

“The Germans wouldn’t let me finish school in Poland. They wanted to send me to Moscow but I refused,” said Danuta, recalling the difficult journey to receiving her education. “The Germans threw out the Polish children from our educational institutions and gave it to the German children. It was hard for me to finish my education, but I eventually went to school for engineering in Poland once the war ended” said Danuta.

Following Danuta’s successful fight to receive an education, she moved to the United States in 1978, beginning an impressive career spanning 18 years. Danuta worked for a large Chicago-based company as a mechanical engineer. She played a crucial role in designing piping for nuclear power stations, leaving an impressive mark on the industry.

“Working as a mechanical engineer was very nice and interesting,” said Danuta. “When I first came to the U.S., I didn’t know much English. I figured I could be like a deaf person and work with my hands and not use my words. I guess you could say it worked out,” said Danuta with a twinkle in her eye.

Now residing at The Danish Home of Chicago, Danuta’s passion for engineering remains undiminished. She finds herself captivated by the ongoing construction, wishing she could put on her work boots and crack away at the project. One incident, in particular, caught her attention when a vehicle got stuck in the foundation. Observing from her window, she couldn't help but offer her expertise, knowing exactly how to resolve the situation. “It was so easy,” said Danuta. “I wanted to go out there and show them how to do it!”

The Danish Home of Chicago has embarked on a large construction project that will bring five new one-bedroom apartment suites and nine private health care suites to the senior living community. The dining room and kitchen will also be expanded and upgraded, adding a new bistro space dedicated to large social gatherings and entertainment as well as new gardens and walking paths for residents to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. The apartments include a 600 to 700 plus square-foot unit, with one to one and a half bath, and a hospitality nook, making these new additions a perfect nod to the preferences of today’s seniors.

Throughout her life, Danuta has embraced a positive outlook and a deep appreciation for the people around her. She believes in understanding and loving others like family, regardless of their differences. The Danish Home of Chicago has become a haven for her, where she cherishes the friendships she has formed.

“The residents are like my own family. I have so much love for them and my home. The Danish Home of Chicago is a truly beautiful place.”

Danuta continues to live her best life in the retirement community, admiring The Danish Home of Chicago’s ongoing construction project and reminiscing on her remarkable journey and past career. Danuta and other residents anxiously look forward to the completion of the community’s construction project, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2025. Her unwavering dedication and passion for her profession inspires us all and serves as a reminder that age will never diminish the true love we have for our passions. As Confucious once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

The Danish Home is a not-for-profit boutique senior living community at 5656 N. Newcastle Ave., in Norwood Park, a residential Chicago neighborhood. Independent, catered, and skilled care are offered on a private pay, rental basis. For information, contact Debi at (773) 775-7383, ext. 4, or visit

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