Richard Patrick Dvorak, age 83, of Rebecca Lane, Niles died on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at his residence following a brief illness. He was born March 17, 1929 in South Bend to William & Eulalia (Niesen) Dvorak.
Richard graduated from Central Catholic High School, South Bend in 1948 where he excelled as a hard nosed football player. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Oriskany during the Korean War. He met the love of his life and wife of 60 years Margaret while in New York City during March of 1952.
Richard and Margaret were married May 14th of 1952 at St. Margaret Catholic Church in Middle Village, New York. They then settled in Niles, Michigan and were soon blessed by the birth of sons Richard Jr., Thomas, John, daughter Judy and son Tim. An electrician by trade, Richard worked in the mobile home industry and was employed by Skyline, American Coach and DeRose. He preferred the life of an outdoorsman and purchased a small summer home and land on Long Lake in Three Rivers, Michigan. He thrived on water while fishing and loved hunting in Southwest Michigan's woods. As his own children grew and grandchildren arrived Richard shared his love of nature and outdoor skill. Time shared at "the lake" became a family tradition with "Grandpa" at the center. His twelve grandchildren have graced Richard and Margaret with seventeen great-grandchildren.
Richard was an inveterate tinkerer, builder and handyman. His own home marked almost entirely by DIY projects and designs. He loved fixing things and his workspace was organized carefully with every brand of tool, doodad and doohicky. Just weeks ago, toolbox in hand, he insisted on helping with electrical work on his grandaughter's new home. He repaired a broken gunrack with loving fidelity. Stairs in his home recently carpeted with the help of a special great grandaughter. Even with his health in decline, Richard found it impossible not to pitch in. His love for a project matched by his love of family.
He was a member of Saint Mark Catholic Church in Niles, Past Grand Knight with the Niles Knights of Columbus Council 708.
He is survived by his wife, the former Margaret Condon, as well as sons Richard (Carol) Dvorak of Knoxville, Tennessee, John Dvorak of Niles, Thomas (Gillian) Dvorak of Virginia and Timothy Dvorak of Niles and daughter Judith (Greg) Ingleright of Niles.
Grandchildren include, Simon (Kristi) Dvorak, Greg (Tara) Ingleright, Julie (David) Ewing, Jenni (Joe) Murray, Daniel Dvorak, Melody (Jesse) Dvorak, Shaun (Kelley) Dvorak, Adam Dvorak, Chris Dvorak, Christine Dvorak, Brian (Nikki) Dvorak and Amethyst Dvorak.
Great grandchildren include David Joseph, Maggi, Hayley, Blake, Zackary, Katlyn, Meghan, Ruthie, Madison, Paige, Emily, Aubree, Alison, Hunter, Patience, Faith and Max.
He was preceded in death by infant twin children and two brothers; James and William Dvorak.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Richard Patrick Dvorak will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 4, 2012 at Saint Mark Catholic Church, Niles, by The Rev. Thomas King, C.S.C. of the church.
The family will receive relatives and friends from 5 – 7:00p.m. at the Halbritter Funeral Home in Niles and will conclude with a Scripture Service beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Donations in memory of Richard may be made to Saint Marks Catholic Church in Niles.
"I need a quarter pound of salami, shaved thin... and a half pound of bologna" I announced to the lady with netted red hair. I read from a short list, hesitant to be sure my instructions were correct. "Are you ordering for someone else by chance?" she asked. "I am". "Is he going to be alright?" The question of the week. I could only shake my head in the negative, push out a feeble "thank you", grab the sliced meat and turn away from the counter before my eyes filled.
Gramps turned 83 this past Saint Patricks day. He had 82 very strong years, tough from the start. As a small boy in 1930's South Bend he worked for a local farmer amongst bigger boys. When the farmer tried to short his pay he stood up for himself. He told me that he worked even harder than the bigger boys and wasn't going to get gypped. He was a hard nosed football player. Too young for WWII grandpa joined the Navy and served in the Korean War. It was while docked in New York that he met Grandma, an Irish Catholic girl from the city waitressing in a dance hall frequented by the sailors who flooded off the Navy ships. They fell in love quickly and decided he should meet her parents. The next day he showed up with a black eye. The official story was a door plastered him when he wasn't looking. In reality he had been at the center of a bar brawl. I asked him just days ago, "Did you win that fight Gramps?" He responded with halting, labored breath, "Naw... I got my butt kicked... too drunk... I did throw the bartender back over the bar though...". An electrician by trade, Gramps fathered five kids. He often morphed into "The Crusher" to the fear and delight of his grandchildren. The tough little kid from 1930's South Bend leaves behind 12 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.
After walking away with the sliced meats, I had the rest of Grandma's list to finish. I was almost painfully aware that I was tracing grandpa's well worn steps through the store. Where he would be certain, I fumbled. Looking for grandma's poppy seed roles, I wished he were there to show me the right ones. I wished there was more time. I wished his body had not so suddenly betrayed a still active and sharp mind. I prayed he might have more time to guide me.
My last visit with Grandpa was Monday afternoon. We held hands. I was trying not to cry. The now open understanding that he would not make it to my upcoming wedding was pushing me past the threshold of self control. He told me I could cry. I obliged. We had a few hours together punctuated by the regular poking and prodding of nurses and beeping medical machinery. He told me, "I wish I could sit on the deck at home". I promptly devised a plot to toss him over my shoulder, dip out the window, make it to my waiting car and spirit him home before any formal authority could stop us. He smiled broadly. He got the news that he was allowed to go home for his last moments late Monday. He travelled home Tuesday morning, resting in a hospital bed replacing his chair by the big front window. He died last night in the home he loved surrounded by all that he had done and the love of his family. I miss him dearly.
I knew from the ambient light setting the wood floors aglow that I was running late. My aim a healthy two wheeled sprint to Montrose beach to catch the places unique angle upon sunrise. Optimo at my right, backpack tightened, gloves on...its through the door and down the steps and then legs thicken with the glory of work.
Belmont Avenue abandoned save a single bus lumbering eastward with an ease reserved for the first morning hours. Sidewalks marked only by the disciplined early starters and the stumbling out all nighters. I pass through Clark and Belmont like I would a section of rural two lane. No need to stop. The Chi still borders on the entirely dreaming.
The thin strip of land between lakeshore and Belmont Harbor packed enough with soil and green organics to impart the coolish air a sweetly thick note when combined with the much needed moisture just yesterday borrowed by the land.
I startle a blind man led onto the path by his canine guide. "Sorry" I yell. My chain nips the derailleur for a few links each turn. I need to fix that. I thought he heard.
Montrose and I wind east. I aim for a gap between a stand of trees, hasten my cadence and burst into the field that bends like a lip up to Montrose Hill. A churning push to the top, a few deep breaths and then down bumping over the uneven field.
The beach is bordered by a final urban effect. A long rough stone wall that dips in two large three foot steps. Only breaks in the stone serve as de facto ergonomic access.
Optimo on my right shoulder I follow the fence line born of municipal distinction between dog and human lakefront. The sand has been freshly combed in loops and lines. The waters edge specially groomed neatly like a long bowed floor plate with clean lines and mechanical angles all moist and fresh.
A lady in the range of 65, braces on her teeth, is walking quickly in a windbreaker south. She blurts out, "ya' here to take pictures?" I respond in the affirmative. "Then you better turn around knucklehead cause your missing it! It just popped up and you missed it. You better start to hustle!" Good advice, I think.
The sun was alone with it's color. No clouds to play companion. The gulls more than obliging. Some fly with real and flattened out intent. Others let the wind push and toss them with only bare animal control. I'm tempted to yell the old ladies advice to a gull caught in a current up and to the right. "Turn around knucklehead, that gull behind you is on to something! Hustle!"
As I leave, a gaggle of older ladies (friends of the advice giver) gather at the foot of a lifeguard stand marking the northern territorial limit of the municipally dedicated human lakefront beach at Montrose. A teen couple slouch dejectedly across the beach. They had been nested quietly in the stand. The older ladies and their collected pack of miniature poodles, schnauzers and terriers sniffing, yipping, twirling and twisting have dampened the mood enjoyed by dreamy youth.
The path now populated by toe separating minimalist footwear and pannier sporting commuters heading loopward. Belmont suddenly blocked for a section by a machine stripping the face from a just calm and cool intersection. The city shaking awake to a new daily hustle.
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