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Dick Dutkiewicz
Born in Michigan
76 years
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Life story
December 18, 2006

FROM: Rick

RE: Thanks for the memories: A tribute to Dad

Okay, I guess I have to add some things you people left out from this tribute to dad and his store. I remember that I was 7 when they first taught me how to face shelves. I knew back then that it was odd for a 7-year-old to do store work, so I purposefully told myself that I was going to remember that I started working in the store when I was 7. And that's why I remember it distinctly.
I remember husking lots of corn on the back stoop. I remember Annabelle working in the produce a lot, and everywhere else. John swatting flies for hours outside the front door. And John's "lunch" next door each day at Art's Tavern. The smell that would fill the store early in the morning when John would grind the coffee for the day, making up little one pound bags. Whenever I make coffee nowadays, I always take a deep whiff of the dry coffee, and I'm 8 years old again, I swear! It's almost eery

Cathy cracked her head on one of those cider barrels while playing acrobat one day. The hoops would come off the barrels some times and you could play with those hoops. I remember the lumps of brown sugar in the big bulk 100# bags - those were good. And for a while, we used to get big sheets of chocolate and have to break up the big sheet and package it in cellophane wrap.
Candling eggs was interesting, especially the few times I found a rotten egg and it was solid black under the light. Careful not to break that one!
Back in the I.G.A. days, going with dad on Wednesday to the little warehouse in Grand Rapids and getting half cases of most things. I remember they would once in a while have salesmen at the front door giving out samples - I distinctly remember sampling my first taste of Cap'n Crunch there. So guess what? . . . whenever I taste Cap'n Crunch nowadays, I remember that first taste with dad at the warehouse.
I remember going to the chicken factory, and while dad would pick up a couple cases of whole chickens, I would stand there (pre-OSHA, you know) watching the guys slitting chicken throats and putting them up on the hanging conveyor line.

I remember the "big bump" (where 18th Street went over some big drain pipe or something) when mom used to take us with her to make the daily deposit at the Byron Center bank in the old panel truck. Because she had almost lost control a couple times flying over the "big bump", dad told us to remind mom not to go too fast over the big bump. I did the same memory trick as the one where I remember facing shelves at age 7; - I told myself that I would always remember to remind mom about the "big bump". So I remembered even after the truck was gone and the bump was gone.
I remember dad stoking the old coal furnace that was downstairs under the steps. Old John did it on the weekdays, but dad had to do it nights and weekends. I don't ever remember getting to shovel coal myself, so they must have got the new oil furnace before I was very old.
When dad first ran for township clerk, he ran as a write-in, so he had me type out his name a couple hundred times and then cut them out, so he could hand them out to supporters who needed to know how to spell his name properly for the ballot. My first experience with a typewriter - the big clunky old-fashioned kind.
I remember dad teaching me flag etiquette so Larry and I could raise and lower the flag at the town hall - how to fold it properly, and when "half-mast" was called for you had to run the flag all the way up and then back down to halfway. Yes, and lots of snow shoveling at the town hall/fire barn as well - sometimes it was hip deep.
I remember other township business, like dad's election day and voter registration paper work, and going along to a few different township graveyards to put new flags on the veterans' tombstones every Memorial Day weekend.

I remember during the summer, on Sundays after dad did his order, he would fumigate the entire store with Raid. I remember the first time he let me do it for him. I remember the first time I stabbed myself in the stomach, slightly, with a box opener, and I didn't tell anyone. I remember doing "the upstairs" storeroom, and lolly-gagging, so it took me forever. That was one of dad's good words for me, "lolly gagging".
I remember the polkas on Dad's little radio, and dad would crank it up after closing time. After dad's car accident, and he quit cigarettes, he would smoke cigars after closing time. Speaking of cigarettes, I remember working the till when cigarettes went up from 30? a pack to 33? - people were all irate about the price increase.
I remember dad being the very first layman commentator at church when St. Stan's first started doing that.
I remember when dad would get a quarter of beef in and have to wrestle that thing onto the hook of the meat scale that hung on a pole in the back room. Speaking of wrestling, I remember the weekend that we got the piano up the stairs - they actually went next door to Art's Tavern to get more guys to help. They had to remove some of the step-boards in the stairs to get past the I-beam.
I remember grabbing and swinging from that I-beam that was half way down the stairs, whenever I walked down those stairs.
I remember long hours of sitting on the store floor (before linoleum tiles? I think it was bare cement?) reading comic books on Sunday after church. Sometimes we snitched penny candy. Okay, not just sometimes.

On a more personal note, I remember how hard mom and dad tried to accommodate my desire to attend the Franciscan seminary in Perrysburg, Ohio, but they just couldn't afford it - so I ended up at G.R. Saint Joe's. I give them credit for trying.
I remember when I separated from Sherry and moved into the Hopkins house with Steve. Dad sent a note home with Steve, it was written on butcher paper with a marker. He said I should give it another chance, for the sake of the children. He said that my ruined marriage was "the worst thing that's ever happened" to him. I give him credit for trying to reason with me when he thought it was important.
And I remember when I would stop and talk religion with mom quite often, in my mid-20's, with all my questions about the Christian faith. Dad came up to go to the bathroom one time while this religious exploration was going on with mom and I. He came out of the bathroom and said, "so you're not a Catholic any more?". I said, "I'm not really sure". He raised his voice, "do you go to Mass on Sunday"? I mumbled, "not always, ... sometimes". His voice raised even more, "Well, Then you're Out of the Church"! Again, I give him credit for making a stand for what he strongly believed in, no matter how much I didn't need or want to hear his opinion.
I remember Steve and Tammy's wedding, where Krys first met dad and he took to her right away, even though dad had such strong feelings about my divorce. Krys danced her first polka with him, and dad asked her, "are you sure you're not Polish"? Krys said, "not at all". (After Krystal's maternal grandparents had passed away, an examination of their old papers revealed the secret that their name "Shelby" was originally "Shebilski" - no one knew they were Polish. It's funny that dad asked Krys about that the first time they ever met.)

The best thing that dad ever taught me were the political "facts of life". Things like "government money always comes with strings attached". "Republicans borrow and spend,  Democrats tax and spend". - He instilled in me a basic distrust of big government.

That's all for now. He was an exemplary dad.
Love to you all,

December 18, 2006
From Paula
Subject: Thanks for the memories: A tribute to Dad
With this e-mail shared among 7 siblings,
Paula started a flurry of reminiscing just before Dad died.

When the old downstairs store was gutted for the new tenant in December 2005, and dad was not able to get around anymore, we kids exchanged e-mail stories of memories of dad and the old Dick's Market that we grew up living upstairs from.

Well, New Years Eve is a time for reflection-and Margi's birthday!!  I woke up this morning and was thinking this may be Dad's last NYE.  Not to be pessimistic, but, he is deflinitely slowing down lately.  Not coming to Christmas Eve and not going to Mass on Christmas Day really struck me that he really is out of steam right now.  I thought it would be nice to bring him a little note of things that he has done for me that I'm thankful for.  Then, I thought I would share that idea with all of you so you could maybe do the same.  Maybe send them to everyone so we can all share in some great memories.

Anyway, these are some of the things I was remembering:

He was always helpful when I needed to make a big decision like choosing a college, buying my first car, and buying our first house (NOT a trailer!)

Family trips: walking to or from a gorgeous waterfall in the UP and Larry & Steve making all kinds of bird noises; getting stuck in a traffic jam in Washington DC; hiking in the splendor of Zion & Meza Verde; the fateful trip to Dan & Bette's when the horses ran away, pulling the fence down; and I swear I remember that little dog on a surfboard at Florida's SeaWorld!

Helping the best he could with Honors Geometry homework
Kneeling down for night prayers after a long day of work
Sunday "funnies" before Church
Big breakfast with the Merrens after Church
The example of leadership in all those years of being Township Clerk
Giving us (me & Ann) the responsibility of shoveling the snow from the library's front walk
Playing with Tuffy, the cat
Watching the pathetic Lions
Going on a Fireman's bus to the Silverdome and cheering for THE BEARS
Sitting on the coop out back (before the south addition) and watching for a "fly over" of some space rocket...I must have been REALLY YOUNG for this!

When the old store was stripped to the concrete...it made a lot of memories come back for me as I was thinking "this is where the beer cooler was, this is where the meat cooler was, etc".  Here are some of my memories of the "little store":
Making hamburgers and wrapping them in wax paper when the store was closed Wednesday afternoons
Betty Baker
Filling the pop machines
When the addition in the back was put on, seeing the concrete walls.

December 18, 2006

Dick was born on February 21, 1930.

He spent his childhood on the West side of Grand Rapids, Michigan "back when it was totally Polack" as he put it.
He started working in his dad's grocery store at the age of eleven.
During Dick's senior year at Catholic Central High School, he met the love of his life, Rusty.

Dick attended Aquinas College and Davenport College, studying accounting. He soon got hired as an accountant for Cornell Oil Company.
Dick and Rusty got married in September of 1951 and moved into a nice little house on Ariebill Street in Wyoming.
Cathy was born in August of '52.
Rick was born in December of '53.
Larry was born in June of '55.

In July of '55, Dick and Rusty moved out to Dorr and bought an old IGA store and renamed it "Dick's Market". They moved their growing family into the 2-bedroom apartment above the little store.
Steve was born in November of '57.
Margie was born in December of '59.
Ann was born in July of '63.

In 1963, Dick ran for Dorr Township Clerk and he held that position until 2004, when his health forced him to give up his job in politics.

In 1967 the town of Dorr was growing rapidly, so Dick expanded the size of Dick's Market with additional floor space and many interior improvements.

Paula was born in January of '69.

Although public schools were free, and Dick and Rusty could hardly afford the tuition costs, all seven kids went to Catholic school for 12 years. That took some real dedication. That's putting your money where your faith is.

During the years in the small store, there was hardly any time for vacations. The family used to take short weekend trips to Michigan's upper peninsula. That was all the time that Dick could allow himself to be away from the store. The store used to be closed on Wednesday afternoons, and the big Viking grocery truck would deliver on that day. All the kids would help stock shelves.

The only regular family sit-down dinners were on Wednesday and Sunday, because everyone was on rotating shifts working in the store downstairs.

For busy "rushes" Dick had a schedule arranged so that one of the kids was always "on call". Dick had an electric bell installed - for summoning emergency help from above, when the store needed a bag packer or carry-out boy (or girl). One ring meant "get down here". Two rings was "get a couple helpers down here". Several urgent rings meant "all hands on deck, get your butts down here".

In the 80's, Dick and Rusty's family just kept growing, with kids getting married and grandkids multiplying.

In 1986, Dick made the huge decision to move Dick's Market a mile to the east, to Hillcrest Mall. This required lots more employees and many more people became involved with running Dick's Market. As the grandkids turned into teenagers, many of them got their first jobs at the new Dick's Market, working for grandpa Dick.

Dick and Rusty finally retired from the grocery business in 1998. Dick still kept working a few more years as Township clerk to keep from being bored. He really loved working on Dorr township business, helping to fend off, or at least deal with, the big government mandates from Lansing and Washington.

Dick always loved his Louis Armstrong and other jazz music, especially piano and big-band jazz like Duke Ellington. If he watched TV, it was usually the History channel or EWTN, the Catholic channel.

The last year or so, when Dick's sickness made him too weak to go out any more, he loved to sit and watch "his town" looking out from the big window of his little apartment above his old store.

Sitting in that chair, Dick passed away on December 17, 2006 at the age of 76.

December 19, 2006

Larry's memories of growing up with Dick's Market downstairs

Okay my turn.......not sure where to start ....how about I love my Dad and Mother and all my brothers and sisters! I have not seen the "empty" store but ... Dad will not leave upstairs unless he can get back up to his window seat. 

Alright on with the past.......I remember burning papers was an early task along with shucking corn. I do remember checking the eggs for red spots. Everyone must remember trying to jump the 2 or 3 stairs it took to get by the hole in the wall as you went up the steps. I seam to remember Dad sometimes sticking his arm through that hole or making noises.

Speaking of Dad noises.......he would scare the hell out of me as I stayed up late watching (from the crack behind the door) Frankenstein meets the werewolf on the black and white TV. Dad would act like Frankenstein and I would run and jump in my bed and pull the covers over my head. I am sure another brother was doing the same thing ...likely Rick.

Facing shelves, helping unload the van after picking up the groceries from Grand Rapids, stocking the shelves looking back ... all so much fun working and being with Dad. Teaching us how to save money as well as pay a share of the cost to go to St. Stans and CC all helped me to be a better person. I totally disagreed with paying my share at the time but it was "non-negotiable" part of working at the store.

I did love the ability to purchase my fist bicycle as well as my first car way ahead of my friends since we always had money from working. May not have had as much time as our friends to have fun but looking back it was worth it.
I most remember dad giving it to all the suppliers, must have been mostly for his fun. He would take all of one's product off the shelf and give the space to the preferred supplier. I think this mostly was when they would not show up in time or they would always run out and make the customer mad! Dad would always give them hell. I always thought that they would not come back again....but they had to, since that was how they made their money. They would take a lot from dad.
I remember dad would find a few minutes to play catch with me out the back door when the customers would slow down. He would throw the ball into the clouds it seemed. I would try my best to catch it but would really be too scared and would let it hit the ground first.
I never new anyone who would smoke both a regular cigarette, Winston's and a menthol cigarette, Salem's at the same time. I never understood how dad knew which to grab when. I also remember mom's struggle with getting a beer and wine license. When dad wanted to get a liquor license (guaranteed 18%) mom and he had another lengthy discussion. Mom was probably right but the money it provided was necessary to feed us all.
I remember the best vacations with dad, mom, and my family. Don't know how they did it, every other year, but they were the best! Grandpa and Grandma Donahue taking 3 grandkids on vacation was also something I will never forget. I hope I can do the same with my grandkids.......not yet!
Dad and mom provided many great examples for us all to raise our own families. If I could be half as good I would be a success.

December 19, 2006

This is Steve's memories - he's the one who was with the store every step of his life.

You've hit a nerve with all of us, Paula. I also walked through the downstairs since it's been stripped bare. The years of working there rushed back as I stood in the aisles and coolers that are no longer there but eerily very recognizable in this cleaned state.

The memories that the older brothers have would be interesting. I recall watching Rick candle eggs. The 50lb bulk brown sugar bag that we would snitch the hard pieces out of for our "candy". The big cider barrel with the pump I always had trouble with. The empty cider barrels in the back yard that we used to walk on while they rolled, like lumberjacks on logs in the water. Riding on the back of the produce truck until it got to the edge of town and we'd have to jump off....
People love to remind me today about the old store. The back door - very handy for working guys, mostly farmers that needed a cold case of beer or a cold pint from the meat cooler and they got rung up at the "liquor till" in the back and right out the door.
Sometimes the liquor shelves were a little too convenient to the back doors weren't they Larry?
Dad had his coffee buddies at the store, first Chet Bala then later Bob Kacz.

He also had his beer buddies like Garth Harmsen who always came to the back about 8:30 on a Friday night while his wife Jo shopped (& who still shops at Dicks every week). Then there was Saturday night, usually busy as hell and here comes Frank Laskowski. After running the town dump all day he was shit-faced and as soon as he walked in the door he would holler "DICK, WHERE'S MY CHECK?" Dad would give him hell right back of course but he knew that the sooner he wrote the township check out for him, the sooner Frankie would buy his baking soda to cool his guts and get out.

One of the things I learned while growing up, puttin' up with messy girls. Seriously, one Dad'ism that stayed with me was "always be nice to the girls." I try anyway. Some of his not so good examples that influence me still:
Snitching out of the Deli, come to think of it, Grandpa Chet would do that too when they came out to shop every Thursday.

Borrowing on a loan - "it's just another payment." Although, I know now that was what he had to tell himself as he dug himself into debt to keep the store afloat.

Eat, Drink, & Do what you want now, because someday they will tell you that you can't anymore.

When at a game - never, ever leave early.

Don't ever tell the state inspector what you think of him, after he leaves have a drink and blow off to everyone else.
There are many things I remember from growing up - like dad throwing me up the stairs when he caught us stealing a 12 pack of Stroh's. But what I love Dad for the most are the things that strike you once you;ve grown up and realize:

How in the hell did he ever put up with the daily drumming for hours above his head while he was serving a store full of customers!?!
The sacrifices they made to send 7 kids to Catholic Central
He had to wonder if I would finally step it up when he built the bigger store. How did he know that I would work the 60 to 70 hour weeks that were needed there for the first 12 years? I sure didn't at the small store and he never really questioned me first.
Dad had a knack for knowing what to stock in the store and how to do it way before category management or plan-o-grams.  Sometimes it was simply listen to the customers since they were always right. His kissing ass for certain customers and then saying too much to others was not his best asset but that's another chapter.


December 19, 2006

This is from Dick's younger sister Bette:

I remember going to the store with my mother and dad every week to get groceries and having a sample of the cheese he used to keep on the meat counter.
Meeting John who “came with the store”
Meeting Ron whom everyone liked
Coming back from Montana the first time with Dan who fell in love with the family – and Dick being proud that I did a 180 degree turn with my life

When I was a kid Dick used to help me with math word problems – I never did get the trick to solving them, though
Feeling so special because Dick used to take almost everywhere (only later did I find out that my mother made him do it!).  But he never told me that
Dick never preached to me even when I went through my wild years – how everyone put up with me is amazing
I have good memories of the little store too
When Dick and Rusty took us on a tour of G.R. and Dick pointing out to Dan “this is another school Bette escaped from” (St. James, Mercy Academy, WCC, and Marywood) – love his sense of humor!
He’ll always be my “big brother” and you are all so special to Dan and me.  I’m really lucky.


December 19, 2006
This was Cathy's bit: Oh Paula now you did it I'm  going to cry. His best part of being there for  all of us was telling us like it was and then step back and let us fall if we had to. Vacations we all have great memories and thanks to Steve and Larry scary times also.
he taught us how to save money 25 cents: 10 went to church, 10 save, 5 for us
he didn't like when I tried make-up
didn't like my first two piece bathing suit
swore he could tell if a quarter in my favorite white pants was heads or tails
told me at 18 it was time to get my own car he'd show me how to finance
soon after "they sure could use my bed when I graduated from nurses training"
hired my fiance to be knowing we could be friends first
on his knees in nightly prayers I told him longtime ago that was the best silent example for us
going to the Holland oval, walking on that hot beach, eating picnic lunches
then going in the winter to walk on the ice again expecting Larry to go through the ice or fall off the edge.
lots of memories
December 20, 2006
Ann’s bit -
Memories of my Dad:
Earliest recollections -
Short vacation trips to Mackinaw Bridge. I remember the first trip when Paula was old enough to shout out when she saw the bridge. I remember because I was told not to be the first to shout!
Sunday trips to Grand Haven - with Dad swimming in the lake making like a whale, on his back squirting water out of his mouth like a whale. / Trips into G.R. to mail the grocery order on Clyde Park, driving over the hills and “getting our bellies”. / Trips to Monroe for Christmas!
First job was burning trash while the bigger kids got to stock shelves. 2nd job was filling the pop machines . . . and trash. Got grounded once for a month when I lied and said I filled the pop machines, but the machine broke down and when dad opened it up to check it out I was busted!
Allowance laid out on the kitchen counter every Sunday morning. Wow, was I rich! / I don’t remember what age I finally got to stock shelves, but I gained a half-dozen bosses telling me what and how to do it right . . . Aaarrrgggh!
I remember Margi telling me once to work with both hands; that was a lesson that stuck. / I miss brick cheese. / Seeping the parking lot was a chore, but at least I was outside. / Bagging lettuce and shucking corn with Anabelle. / The Buzzer.
Betty Baker / “Front” / That Dan man who would always come in late and talk too much tilll after 8pm closing time / Hiding from Vern & Frank / Watching Tuffy the cat gnaw on the cow kidney till it was gone / rolling boxes of groceries off the semi truck on the conveyor - that was so cool! / Family dinners on Wed. and Sun. / Praying that huge dinner prayer / When Cathy had a family, then it was big kielbasa breakfast every Sunday after church
So many memories!
Grandpa and Grandma Dutkiewicz shopping every week & honking their big car’s horn as they drove away. - I continue that honking tradition to this very day
Thanks dad for those 10 day vacation trips to everywhere except the east or west coast . . . stopping at every historical marker along the road / Driving for a tank of gas and then stopping for the night to sleep, maybe get a dip in the motel pool after you would ask them to open it for us
Kneeling down to pray every night no matter what! / Telling me once that if I can sing along with the radio, then I can sing in church, ... and I’m still singing even if no one else does!
Thanks Dad for the great work ethic you instilled in us - working for 17 years looks good on the resume / Thanks for my religious faith foundation / Thanks for hiring Bruce, he’s a good hardworking faithful man like you - Those few years between you being my anchor and Bruce, I had no direction really - God works in mysterious ways for sure
Thanks for the raise when I went to college / All those times we all went out to eat - first Granma and Grandpa Dutkiewicz, then you continued the tradition / I always treasure the later years with you and mom to family events & Memorial Day remembering and praying for relatives who have passed / I will continue the tradition
Lastly, I just wish we were all still working at the store together, period.