Thank you, sir
– Wyandotte Warrior –
Andrew Swiecki, who will be 80 years old in August, has served the residents of Wyandotte in many capacities for the breadth of his adult life. On July 1, he was honored when the city’s Customer Service Center was dedicated to him.
Mayor Joseph Peterson said the honor is way to make sure Swiecki is remembered as long as the building stands.
“He’s one of the best men I’ve ever met in my life,” the mayor said. “He’s been a pillar of the community for many years.”
Swiecki was born in the apartment above his father’s Wyandotte business, Andy’s Café.
“Back in the day, we didn’t go to the hospital,” he said.
When his father died, Swiecki took over the café, which was on Biddle Avenue where a Rite Aid drug store stands today. He ran the business for 26 years.
“I sold it in ’81,” he said. “I was city treasurer then and I had three children. I sold the business so I could spend more time with my family.”
Swiecki was a member of City Council from 1967-79, and city treasurer from 1979-2013. But his service to the community extends far beyond that.
A 1957 graduate of Mt. Carmel High School and a 1963 graduate of the University of Detroit, Swiecki has been a leading member of the community’s Lions Club, Goodfellows and Knights of Columbus, to name a few of his endeavors.
During the dedication ceremony, Swiecki also was presented with the Goodfellows of the Year Award by the group’s president, Larry Stec, who talked about how the honoree revitalized the Goodfellows and ensured its service to the children of the community. Swiecki’s wife Patricia and other family members were on hand, beaming with pride.
The honoree, with customary humility, talked about the merits of the many city employees he worked with over the years.
“I want to thank all the citizens of Wyandotte,” Swiecki added. “If my dad was here, he’d be proud.”
The mayor told Swiecki: “You’re part of the history of this city.”
The dedication and the ceremony were “very nice,” Swiecki said afterward. And it easily could have been a posthumous honor for the man who has served the community so well.
On Jan. 25, Swiecki had a bad fall and broke his neck.
“I was in the hospital for two months,” he said. “I couldn’t move. My wife Pat had to feed me. Now the only thing affected is my left arm. I’m still going to physical therapy for that. They say the arm should come back to most of its ability. Right now, my biggest ambition is to drive again. My wife has to drive me everywhere. You lose your independence. Breaking my neck was probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. My wife is an angel!”
He stood hale and hearty, his wife by his side, to receive his July 1 honor. Swiecki said he truly enjoyed his many years in office.
“The best thing was helping people, the contact with the public,” Swiecki said. “You feel like you’re contributing more to society, and you’re making sure things are going right for people. When I solved problems for them, it made me feel good. It’s just my nature, I guess. I like to keep active and help people.”
As treasurer of the Goodfellows some years ago, he was saddened when the group didn’t have enough money to help all the children in need. So, at Swiecki’s urging, he and his fellow group members got the Police and Fire Departments involved and found ways to have a number of fundraisers.
“It turned out to be a wonderful project,” Swiecki said. “It created interest in the Goodfellows and created revenue. Our motto is: No child without a Christmas.”
As a young man, he played golf, fished and took some daredevil risks.
“I did some skydiving back in the day,” Swiecki said. “I did a couple of free falls. It was exciting. But I quit when I got married. My wife kind of suggested that I maybe shouldn’t do that.”
He still goes fishing now and then, and enjoys “puttering around the yard,” he said. “It keeps me out of trouble.”
When he looks back, he’s proud of his life.
“I have three children, seven grandchildren, a beautiful wife and lots of friends,” Swiecki said. “I did a lot of things for the city — not all that I wanted to do, but I feel kind of accomplished. I always think I could have done more. You always can improve on your life.”
He’s still finding ways to improve the lives of others through his active memberships in service groups, including Goodfellows.
“I’ve got a lot more life ahead of me,” Swiecki said.