Joseph L. Czerniakowski, a former Toledo councilman who was some families’ attorney of choice for generations, died March 20 in Naples, Fla., Community Hospital. He became ill only recently, his sister Joan Sochacki said.
Mr. Czerniakowski, 85, of South Toledo handled probate, real estate, and income tax matters. He retired about four years ago.
“Joe had absolute integrity,” said Michael Errington, who practiced with him for nearly 40 years. “I was always thankful to him for teaching me how to practice law. He was well thought of in the Polish community. He was representing the grandparents and the parents and on to the kids. A lot of his clients would consider him to be as much their friend as their attorney.”
Mr. Czerniakowski was elected to council in 1959, one of five Democrats, only to be swept from office in 1961, along with all but one incumbent, when Republicans took an 8-1 majority. He ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 1962. He was a former 14th Ward Democratic chairman.
He was born March 2, 1928, to Sophie and Stanley Czerniakowski. He attended Central Catholic High School, but graduated from St. Bonaventure School in Wisconsin. He attended the University of Toledo but received bachelor’s and law degrees from Georgetown University in Washington. He was an Army veteran and was in the judge advocate’s office in Germany. He later was judge advocate for the Catholic War Veterans at the Logsdon-Post in Toledo and at the state level. He was a member of the American Legion Przybylski Post. He was a former national director of the Union of Poles in America.
He and his first wife, Florence, married Sept. 14, 1963. She died Oct. 29, 1988. He and his second wife, Alma, married July 10, 1993. She died Oct. 7, 2010. Surviving are his brother, Raymond, and sisters, Evelyn Walsh and Joan Sochacki.
Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Monday, with a recitation of the Rosary at 6 p.m. and 2-8 p.m. Tuesday, with a Scripture service at 7 p.m., in the W.K. Sujkowski & Son Funeral Home. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Joan of Arc Church, where he was a member. Tributes are suggested to the Albin and Joseph Czerniakowski scholarship fund at UT, St. Joan of Arc Church, the Melvin E. Lawicki scholarship fund at Central Catholic, the Rev. John D. Kofflin memorial fund at the Logsdon-Walla post, or the Msgr. Jerome E. Schmit Youth Foundation.