Civic-minded businessman ran bowling center


SWANTON — Richard S. Slawinski, who arrived in town to run the local bowling center and immersed himself in civic good works, died Thursday in Swanton Health Care Center, where he lived since April. He was 88.

The cause of death was not known. He was in poor health recently, his son Rick said.

Mr. Slawinski operated the former K-C Bowling Lanes from 1956 until the early 1990s.

“He was well liked. Everybody knew Dick,” said John Syx, a former village administrator and a former superintendent of schools.

Bowling was in its heyday when Mr. Slawinski took the reins at K-C, and he worked to maintain a clean place where bowlers, or anyone, could have fun at a good price.

“He loved to have them come in and have a meal, bowl well, and be happy when they walked out of there,” his son said.

A Toledo native, he joined the Knights of Columbus in 1945. The chapter in Swanton had a bowling center and needed someone to operate it. He bowled, and he was good with numbers. He worked in accounting at the Continental Baking Co. in Toledo.

“He was tapped to run [the bowling center] for the Knights of Columbus,” his son said.

In time, he and business partners leased the bowling business from the Knights of Columbus, which still owned the building. The partners added lanes, and Mr. Slawinski managed the day-to-day operations and employees and kept the building up, “so the customers would keep coming back.”"

K-C was home to men’s, women’s, and mixed leagues. He and two of his children became bowling insructors.

“He loved meeting people and getting to know them,” his son said, “and [was] willing to help them out if they were new in town.”

He sold the business when he retired. It closed several years ago.

“He was a bit sad that citizens in the area didn’t have a place to go for the entertainment they could always get when he was running it,” his son said.

As a business owner, Mr. Slawinski wanted to help out in his adopted hometown. He joined the volunteer fire department.

An alarm might find him going “from a smoky bowling alley to a smoky house fire,” his son said.

Mr. Slawinski became a charter member when a local Rotary Club was formed and became president. He was secretary for several years and had 50 years’ perfect attendance, said Mr. Syx, a fellow Rotarian.

“Swanton meant everything to him — the town, the activities,” Mr. Syx said.

Mr. Slawinski was elected to Swanton Village Council in November, 1973, and served for four years. He was in the majority on council in supporting construction of a municipal building.

He and his wife liked to travel. “Rotary and bowling gave them that opportunity,” son Rick said — from Rotary conventions to American Bowling Congress tournaments around the country.

Mr. Slawinski was a member of St. Richard Church and had been president and secretary of the parish council.

He was a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, the highest level, and was a member of the Sacred Heart Council and of the Toledo General Assembly.

“He had a strong Catholic faith,” his son said.

He was born Sept. 26, 1924, to Jane and Richard Slawinski and grew up in North Toledo.

He was a 1942 graduate of Central Catholic High School. As a young man he worked on Great Lakes freighters.

Surviving are his wife, Norma Jeanne Slawinski, whom he married Feb. 15, 1947; sons, Richard P., Thomas, Donald, Steven, William, Kenneth, and Joseph Slawinski; daughter, Mary Jeanne Stine; 25 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren.

Visitation is to resume from 2-8 p.m. today in the Weigel Funeral Home, Swanton, with a vigil service at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Richard Church, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the church; the Rotary Club; the Knights of Columbus, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182