Surowiak Named Knight of the Month
Richard Surowiak of Citrus Hills is the Knights of Columbus Council 6168 March Knight of the Month.
“Richard and his wife, Linda, are well-known hospitality ministers at Our Lady of Grace Church,” Council 6168 Grand Knight Mike Belkin said. “Richard has been doing it for years, always welcoming, always the leader, and always adapting to the needs of the day, most recently to new practices because of the pandemic.”
Richard, a Knight since 1991, said he was led to be an usher back in 1990 after he and Linda moved from Chicago to Marco Island. He had been raised as a Catholic and attended parochial schools but “didn’t like to go to church.”
Linda, on other hand, very much liked attending Mass and even taught religion classes. Finally he said “Okay, I’ll be an usher,” when she led him back to regular attendance.
He’s been a hospitality minister ever since. Today he is the head hospitality minister at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, a reliable host at 10:30 a.m. Sunday Masses and a regular at Knights of Columbus activities.
Growing up poor among canneries and apartments in northwest Chicago, Richard at 17 years old fell into a program for “troubled” high school students at General Motors’ Cadillac Motorcar Division. Training and work there led to a career as a Cadillac automotive technician. He specialized in “electric stuff”: cruise control, starters, fuel injection, air bags, anti-lock brakes and more.
In 1982, after 25 years with GM, Richard opened his own business in Elmhurst, Ill. where they lived. He called it West Automotive Service and employed four mechanics. He sold the business in 1990, and they moved to Florida, first to Marco Island and then in 2004 to Citrus County.
Richard and Linda married on August 16, 1958, and he was content then with a wife and good job at Cadillac. That was when Uncle Sam wrote Richard a letter, drafting him into the U.S. Army. He spent 1960-1963 “doing the same thing,” repairing heavy vehicles like half-tracks in Army motor pools at Fort Bliss, Texas and in Korea.
Linda, pregnant after his pre-overseas furlough, gave birth to their first-born, Richard Jr., while Richard was in Korea.
Involvement with Cadillacs over the years brought him into contact with many “interesting people,” all Cadillac owners: mayors, business owners, crime bosses and celebrities, among them Paul Harvey of radio fame.
Now 83, Richard’s knees are hurting, and his cardiologist warned that Richard’s heart is wearing out. “Find me a good, used one!” jested the retired Cadillac technician.