Eugene J. Sujkowski, Jr., a fourth-generation funeral director and owner for about 40 years of a mortuary in Rossford where his sons — and now grandchildren — work, died Monday in his Perrysburg Township home. He was 74.
He had cancer the last 3½ years, and as he recuperated after each round of treatment, returned to his duties at Sujkowski Funeral Home of Rossford.
“He battled hard and fought until the last day,” said his daughter-in-law Wendy, who works at the funeral home in Rossford, where her husband, Brian, is a funeral director. “He worked his last funeral three weeks ago.”
Mr. Sujkowski, first licensed by the state as an embalmer and funeral director in 1963, was a former president of the Northwest Ohio Funeral Directors Association and a past president of the Ohio Embalmers Association.
“It was his true calling, as it was for his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather,” said Terry Andryc, a funeral director with Walker Family Funeral Homes, who was a senior at Rossford High School in the mid-1970s when he went to work for Mr. Sujkowski.
“He was my mentor,” said Mr. Andryc, who served his apprenticeship under Mr. Sujkowski. “If there’s anything he taught me, it was service to families.”
Mr. Sujkowski’s great-grandfather, William, was a Polish immigrant who started a furniture store and then a funeral home in the late 19th century on Lagrange Street in Toledo. The mortuary opened a Nebraska Avenue location at the turn of the 20th century. By 1921, his son, William K. Sujkowski, was running the business at a new location on Nebraska. He was joined by his sons, Eugene, Sr., and Valentine, who took over after his death in 1967. Eugene, Sr., died in 1978, and his brother and sons, Eugene, Jr., and William C. Sujkowski, moved in 1980 to Airport Highway. Valentine later opened his own independent Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe on Alexis Road with his son Hilary.
Eugene, Jr., and his wife, Marcia, bought the former Rossford Funeral Home in 1976. Though still a partner in the Airport Highway location, Rossford became his base of operations.
“It was an ethnic community, a small community, and he always liked the area,” his daughter-in-law said.
He semiretired in 2005 from the Airport Highway funeral home, operated by his brother and now his brother’s daughters. He worked closely with his sons Brian and Mark, who operate Sujkowski of Rossford. Another son, Kevin, works there, as does grandson Dane. A granddaughter, Ashley, served a funeral director apprenticeship there.
He was committed to family ownership — and was proud that the fifth and sixth generations of Sujkowskis were interested in the business, his daughter-in-law said.
“He always wanted to have direct contact with his community,” his daughter-in-law said. “He wanted to be able to make his own rules. He didn’t want to have to follow corporate values. He wanted to follow his own values and principles.
“He looked at it as a vocation,” she said. “It was about helping his community.”
He was born Aug. 3, 1939, to Alice and Eugene Sujkowski. He was a 1957 graduate of Central Catholic High School and received a bachelor’s degree from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. He received a mortuary science degree in 1962 from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.
He was a Harley-Davidson devotee and liked taking to the open road with his sons, also Harley owners.
“He loved to have fun,” his daughter-in-law said. “He loved a good joke and loved going up to the U.P. with his wife.”
Surviving are his wife, Marcia Sujkowski, whom he married June 23, 1962; sons, Brian, Mark, and Kevin Sujkowski; brother, William C. Sujkowski; four grandchildren, and two step-granddaughters.
Visitation is to continue in the Sujkowski Funeral Home of Rossford from 2-8 p.m. today. Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Monday in All Saints Church, Rossford, where the family will greet guests after 9:30 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to All Saints, where he was a member, or Central Catholic High School.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.