John S. Chudzik

[ Age 93 ] Labor attorney fought for medical and pension benefits for construction workers, and for civil rights.

"The funds he established helped working men and women gain a measure of security and comfort."

January 16, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

John S. Chudzik, a retired labor attorney and advocate for medical and pension benefits for construction workers, died of acute kidney failure Thursday at the Presbyterian Home of Maryland. He was 93 and a Parkville resident.

Born in Yonkers, N.Y., he joined the Civil Conservation Corps in the 1930s and worked in forest reclamation. He later enlisted in the Navy and worked in intelligence during World War II in Washington and Hawaii.

After the war, he settled in Washington and earned a Bachelor of Arts, a law degree and a doctorate in law from George Washington University.

"My stepfather was a pioneer in the issues that surrounded the early organized-labor movement and the creation of pension funds," said his stepson Michael O'Connell of Acton, Mass. "He championed the case for labor pension funds during the time Attorney General Robert Kennedy's committee was investigating organized labor."

Family members said Mr. Chudzik worked with other civil rights advocates to help blacks gain access to Washington hospitals, which had been segregated.

Mr. Chudzik moved to Maryland in the mid-1950s and lived in a Charles Village apartment. He established the Construction Workers Trust Fund under the aegis of the Laborers District Council.

He opened a law office in the 2200 block of St. Paul St. and established medical, pension, vacation, dental and life insurance plans for laborers, plasterers, carpenters and ironworkers.

"He was known for his fairness, integrity and work ethic," his stepson said. "The funds he established helped working men and women gain a measure of security and comfort both for themselves and their families."

Family members said his reputation in labor law led to inquiries from the administration of President Gerald R. Ford about his becoming secretary of labor.

"It was an honor he chose to decline," his stepson said.

Mr. Chudzik liked horse racing. He owned harness horses, trotters that competed at the Rosecroft, Goshen and Monticello tracks.

"He enjoyed modest success but quit the sport for good when a barn fire completely wiped out his stable," his stepson said.

Mr. Chudzik made several visits to Poland in the past two decades. He paid for a church in the town of Nowsielec in honor of his father, Peter Chudzik, who spent his youth there. The church building is nearly complete.

A Mass was offered Monday.

In addition to his stepson, survivors include his wife of nearly 48 years, Beatrice Valachovic O'Connell; a brother, Peter Chudzik of Dunkirk, N.Y.; and two nieces. A stepson, Carl O'Connell, died in 1990.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.