Felix Tomczak, a longtime United Auto Workers organizer and Democratic Party leader in Toledo's Polish Village where he was fondly called "Mayor of Lagrange Street," died Friday in his home.
He was 86 and suffered from heart problems, his wife, Dorothy, said.
He retired from his public relations position with the UAW's Toledo Board of Health and Retiree Center after his first heart attack in 1979.
"He was a dyed in the wool, loyal Democrat," said former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, recalling his dedication as a precinct committeeman in Toledo's Fourth Ward.
"He was committed to two things very deeply," Mr. Finkbeiner said.
"One was patriotism and the other was his neighborhood, which he loved dearly."
Mr. Tomczak was a lifelong resident of the Polish Village, who never considered moving even as the neighborhood changed.
For decades, he and his wife built floats for neighborhood parades.
His influence in the Lagrange Street community was significant, said Lee Weber, a former city of Toledo official who once lived in the Fourth Ward. Political candidates backed by Mr. Tomczak could count on winning his ward, Mr. Weber said.
He was one of the most active members of almost all of the organizations in which he was involved, and they were numerous.
"He was a doer," said Joe Tomasi, a former director of UAW Region 2B.
"One of those guys who got involved in everything that was important to the union," he added.
Mr. Tomczak was a UAW representative at the Jeep plant for years before starting work with the union's health and retiree center in 1960. That job jived with Mr. Tomczak's personality, his wife said.
"He was on the go," she said. "He met a lot of people."
Earlier, he was employed at Libbey Glass and operated the former Lagrange Hot Dogs and Polish Food Restaurant with his mother in the 1940s and 1950s. Their hot dogs were priced two for 25 cents.
Although Mr. Tomczak was a devout Catholic who did not eat meat on Fridays, he would sell hot dogs to Catholic schoolchildren on Fridays, much to the dismay of a neighborhood priest, Mrs. Tomczak recalled. "Business is business," she said.
Mr. Tomczak was the youngest of seven children born to Michael and Lottie Tomczak. His father died when he was young and his mother remarried. Mr. Tomczak graduated from Woodward High School in 1936.
He attended St. Adalbert Catholic Church, but switched to St. Hedwig in 1950 when he married his wife, whose family were long-time members there.
He enjoyed polka dancing and brought many polka bands and well-known entertainers to Toledo in his UAW work.
Surviving are his wife, Dorothy, and sister, Virginia Gajewski.
The body will be in Urbanski Funeral Home after 4 p.m. today, with a Rosary service at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Hedwig Catholic Church.
The family suggests tributes to St. Hedwig Catholic Church.
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