THOMAS RICHARD SKUZINSKI

Thomas Richard Skuzinski died Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, at the age of 79. He was born Nov. 22, 1931, in Grand Rapids, to Stanley Skuzinski and Stefanie Zyzalowska, the youngest child of a large, Polish-American family.

Thomas discerned a call to the priesthood at an early age and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1957, following studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Grand Rapids, Seminaire de Philosophie in Montreal, and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Mich. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Joseph’s in Manistee, and taught and coached at Manistee Catholic Central. He was then appointed Pastor of St. Philip Neri in Reed City, which also included duties at St. Anne’s in Paris and Sacred Heart in Evart.

After 15 years as a priest, Thomas sought laicization from Pope Paul VI and married Rita Carolyn Huber on Aug. 10, 1973, in the Catholic Church. Both were devout Catholics and raised their two children, Elvira and Thomas, in the same tradition. As a priest he had served many who were ill or struggling in spirit, body, or mind, and remembered fondly his ministry to those in hospitals and nursing homes. He would continue this work in his secular career, serving as a social worker to troubled youths and the elderly. Many will recall his love of jokes, cribbage, good food, sports, model-building and model railroading, classical and folk music, reading and nature. He valued simple pleasures, and was able to enjoy many during a long and mostly healthy life.

Thomas was predeceased by his parents; his brothers, Edward, Charles, Anthony and Stanley; and sister, Stella. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Rita Carolyn Skuzinski (Huber); his daughter, Elvira Marya; his son, Thomas Stefan; and a sister, Lucille Belperain (Skuzinski). They will remember him always as a wonderful husband, father and brother.

A funeral mass was held Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 10 a.m., at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Ann Arbor. Condolences and correspondence may be sent to his children at 3104 Bolgos Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.