Alexander P. Szuchnicki, 84, technician, visitor of sick

June 24, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Alexander Peter Szuchnicki was a familiar sight at the altar of St. Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in South Baltimore, and in the rooms of sick parishioners to whom he gave comfort.

Mr. Szuchnicki, a 30-year technician at Locke Insulator Corp. until his 1978 retirement, died of a blood clot on June 17 at Mercy Medical Center. He was 84.

A devout Catholic, Mr. Szuchnicki was a longtime communicant of St. Mary Star of the Sea where he was ordained a deacon in the 1970s and assisted the parish priest.

"Alexander was a very giving, helpful and dependable person," said Rev. John Lippold, who served at St. Mary's from 1978 to 1989. "He had suffered from polio as a young man and the disease left him with a limp. He never complained about his difficulties. He was a very humble man [with] a deep respect for the Lord."

Mr. Szuchnicki lived two blocks from his parish on Riverside Avenue.

In addition to his work at the church, he was associate chaplain of Our Lady of Lourdes Council of the Knights of Columbus in Locust Point and had been chaplain at the Federal Hill Nursing Home.

Webster Avenue resident Mary Frances Garland, a friend for over 20 years and a member of the St. Mary's liturgy committee, described him as a "wonderful and compassionate man who was determined to do good.

"Because he was in pain most of the time from his polio and had been in the hospital, he was especially compassionate to those who were hospitalized," she said.

Recalling his "absolutely beautiful smile," Mrs. Garland said he especially enjoyed his work as a port chaplain visiting crews of ships docked in Locust Point.

"He'd climb up ships' ladders and welcome the crews to Baltimore and made himself available to help with their spirituality," Mrs. Garland said. "He had such an open and welcoming way about him and the ability to put people at ease."

A man of medium build, Mr. Szuchnicki was born in Curtis Bay and returned to Poland as a boy, graduating from high school in Womza. He returned to Baltimore before World War II and during the war years, was a locomotive engineer at the Ordnance Depot in Curtis Bay.

He was married in 1945 to the former Audrey Duvall, who survives him. When his children were young, he enjoyed taking them for Sunday afternoon walks through the city.

Known for a dry sense of humor, Mr. Szuchnicki was an avid reader and opera buff. He liked attending performances of the Baltimore Opera Company. His favorites were Haydn and Mozart. He also liked gardening and making up special meals to serve to his family.

Services were held Thursday at St. Mary Star of the Sea.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Gerome Szuchnicki of Baltimore and Stephen Szuchnicki of Frederick; three daughters, Linda Sandusky of Fallston, Laura Chowdhry of Columbia and Victoria Collins of Baltimore; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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