Friday, January 25, 2019
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Rosary will be prayed at 5:30
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Anthony of Padua Parish
2510 Richmond St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
STANLEY CHESTER MROZ SR. ..........LIFE STORY
Stan's father was Frank John Mroz 1890-1962
Frank emigrated from Danzig, Poland via Bremen, Germany to Ellis Island in June 1913. Franks' father was Andrew Mroz and Frank's mother was Catherine Vrona. After arriving in Grand Rapids, Frank found employment at Johnson Furniture Co. as a wood finisher.
Stan's mother was Veronica Dzvierzynska 1904-1992
Veronica emigrated from Rzeszow, Poland and arrived in Ellis Island on January 21, 1921. She became a United States citizen on July 2, 1942. Veronica worked at Grand Rapids Window Cleaning Co.
FRANK AND VERONICA WERE MARRIED ON APRIL 12, 1921
STANLEY CHESTER MROZ was the first live birth to Frank and Veronica. (July 2, 1922) He was the oldest of 10 children. There were 7 girls (Lottie, Bernice, Eleanor, Florence, Betty, Ruth, and Mary Ann). Stanley had 2 brothers (Teddy, Eddie). Those still alive are: Florence, Ruth, Betty, Mary Ann and Eddie. STANLEY CHESTER was born at the family home 1249 4th. St. NW Grand Rapids, Michigan. With the exception of his sister Mary Ann, all of the Mroz children were born at the family home.
Frank and Veronica raised their family in the Polish Catholic tradition. Stanley Chester went to school at St. Adalbert's where he served as an altar boy and had the honor of ringing the bells during the Consecration of the Mass. Of all the boys in the neighborhood, Stanley Chester was the smallest in stature and was given the honor of steering one of the "gang's" father's car down the alley while the bigger boys pushed. As the years passed, Stanley Chester attended Stocking school where he got introduced to baseball and was the pitcher for the Kinney Shoes Team. He moved on to Union High School where he excelled in shop classes and graduated in 1940.
Being the oldest, Stanley Chester as his name implies was a provider. Even as a child, Stanley Chester would gather fruits and vegetables growing in the woods and fields nearby. He would gather wild mushrooms, cherries, wild strawberries and the like and bring them home to his mother to prepare for the family. One time, he was walking thru the woods along a stream; quite a long way from home and found a turtle. As slight in stature as he was, he carried that full grown turtle all the way home for his mother to cook.As Stanley Chester was growing up, the evenings were spent sitting with his father listening to stories from Poland while his mother worked nights. At the age of 6, Stanley Chester's father taught him how to play the concertina. Later at the age of 9, his grandmother, Amelia Rempalski, paid for piano accordion lessons for Stanley. He practiced religiously and would often take his accordion and go and sit in the bleachers at Valley Field to practice because the acoustics were super. The entire block could hear him without an amplifier. Stanley Chester would practice for hours to perfect his technique and keyboard agility. One day a musician by the name of Stan Skurka who had heard Stanley Chester play came to ask Stan's father if he would allow Stanley Chester to play in his band. The rest is history. Soon Stanley Chester was playing for weddings, showers, hall dances, etc. and he was barely 17 years old.
Stanley Chester also raised rabbits and racing pigeons as a young boy. Once again he provided his parents and his younger siblings with food for the table. But, he took great pride in his racing pigeons as he trained them and eventually "clocked" them in as winners with the Pigeon Club. He continued to race pigeons after his marriage until family responsibilities prevented him from spending time traveling with the club.
Stanley Chester's gift of gardening came from his mother Veronica who could make anything grow. Together they worked in their backyard garden and later in life, Stanley planted 30 fruit trees in his backyard and lovingly nursed them thru winters, "varmint infestation" and squirrels. He would sit in his lawn chair with his air rifle and chase those squirrels away. Stanley did hunt for pheasants and rabbits in his young years, but that ceased when he came home from work one day and found his daughter Barbara Jean playing with his shotgun shells on the basement steps.
While playing with the Stan Skurka Band for a wedding, Stanley Chester noticed a dark haired young gal among the wedding guests. During one of the band's breaks, he questioned the guests as to what was the name of that gal and where did she live. It wasn't long and Stanley Chester was knocking on the front door and asking to see Dorothy. Dad was never a conversationalist, so when Stanley Chester came face to face with Dorothy Wiktorowski from Park Street SW; he started their conversation by handing her his business card as a musician. Dorothy was working in a candy factory in Grand Rapids. Their courtship was sweet as they went for dates in Dad's Plymouth. Finally on June 6, 1942, Stanley Chester and Dorothy Barbara were joined in Holy Matrimony at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
They set up housekeeping in an upstairs apartment on Bridge St. in Grand Rapids. Stanley Chester continued to play in the Skurka Band and carry his instruments up the stairs. Stanley would come home for lunch every day. One day Dorothy got the mail and found the letter from the Draft Board. She didn't tell Stanley when he came home for lunch. She waited until the evening and told him and together they made plans on a course of action. Dad left for basic training to Mineral Wells, Texas where he was made platoon leader. It was during this time that Stanley fell ill from a bleeding ulcer and shortly after finishing his training and just before shipping out he was given an Honorable Discharge from the Army. His physical condition on his papers stated: Physical Condition POOR. Stanley returned to Grand Rapids and his lovely wife Dorothy and spent time recuperating in a hospital. With improved health, Stanley got a job working for American Plating where his health began to worsen. It was then that his fellow musician, Stan Skurka recommended Stanley Chester for a job as a millwright at Kelvinator. Stanley Chester and Dorothy moved to an apartment on Lane Avenue and started their family. Their family grew to 4 boys (Stan Jr. Michael, William, and Frederick) and 4 girls (Carol Ann, Barbara Jean, Christine, and Annmarie)
Stanley Chester worked at Kelvinator for 38 years. He continued his musical career, playing for weddings, showers, anniversaries and conventions, in the evenings after coming home from 8 hours working at Kelvinator. Stanley and Dorothy saved every penny and with a third baby on the way were able to buy their first home (1045 Woodrow Ave. NW). Soon Stanley Chester stepped out on his own and started his own Polka Orchestra. Stanley Chester worked harder developing his skills with the accordion as well as learning the ropes of being a band leader. He was respected for his musical ability, his mild mannerism, and his fairness in dealing with his fellow musicians. When President Jimmy Carter visited Grand Rapids, Stanley Chester played for him and had his picture taken with him. As the years passed, Stanley Chester found himself playing for 25 and 50 year anniversaries for couples that he played for their weddings. He was recognized throughout the city of Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Conklin as well as Chicago and Wisconsin. In 1974, Stanley Chester Mroz Sr. was inducted and received into the Michigan Polka Hall of Fame. (That was a real feather in his cap) Stanley Chester Mroz Sr.'s Polka Orchestra won several awards for the best band for Pulaski Days, time and again.
In June of 2012, the Walker Northwest Advance featured Stanley on their front page to mark his 90th birthday. (see enclosure) For years Stanley volunteered to play for the Toys for Tots Fund Raisers in Muskegon.
Stanley and Dorothy took great pride in their family and the fact that they raised 8 children on their own. If they had difficulties, they solved them themselves. They worked as a team and Stanley Chester worked during the day at Kelvinator and then played in the evenings on the weekends to support their family. The smiles on their faces said it all. Of course, Stanley was proud of the fact that all this extra work enabled him to buy new and improved musical equipment that gave his orchestra that extra something in sound that others did not have. Dorothy was right beside him and encouraged him while keeping the home fires burning.
Stanley and Dorothy raised their family to respect others and to know right from wrong. They taught their family discipline and responsibility, while providing security and comfort in the family unit. Stanley was the soft-spoken disciplinarian while Dorothy was the true disciplinarian. Dad was a believer that if you took on a job...you did it right the first time
One by one, the children left the nest and Stanley and Dorothy were able to experience doing things together again. They loved to go fishing and would do so on the spur of the moment. Much laughter was shared the time they went out in the boat and Stanley forgot the boat plug. Many the evening Dorothy could be heard singing while Stanley would practice. They joined the St. Adalbert Catholic War Veterans Post 1058 where Stanley was one of the coaches for the Little League Baseball Team and Dorothy held the office of Secretary of the Auxiliary. Once again they worked side by side.
Later Stanley joined the American Legion Post 459 where he served as Chaplain and later became a Lifetime Member. In 2004; for his 82nd. birthday, Stanley was presented with a place of honor utilizing a granite paver on the Walk of Remembrance at the Soldier's Field Veteran's Memorial in Rochester, Minnesota.
Stanley and Dorothy's travels included a trip to Las Vegas, San Diego, Chicago, and Wisconsin. Together they flew to Hawaii and were like newlyweds in the warmth and friendliness of the island. They even ventured to Minnesota where they shopped at the Mall of America.
When Dorothy suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in 1996; Stanley was alone and was able to fill his loneliness with his music and the people who came to hear him play. Stanley would look back on the 8 children he and Dorothy raised and smile when the 21 grandchildren came on the scene and just shake his head when the great grandchildren numbered 34.
Stanley Chester Mroz Sr. truly had a full life.............
REST EASY DAD.........A JOB TRULY WELL DONE
MEMBER OF MICHIGAN POLKA HALL OF FAME
Our Loving Savior called Stanley Chester Mroz Sr. to join his heavenly music section on January 23rd, 2019
Stanley was the oldest of ten children born to Frank and Veronica Mroz He grew up on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids and attended St Adalbert and Stocking schools. He graduated from Union High School Class of 1940.
In June of 1942, he married the love of his life Dorothy Barbara Wiktorowski and set up housekeeping which was interrupted by his service in the United States Army. Upon completion of his military service with an Honorable Discharge, Stanley and Dorothy began their family which eventually grew to eight children.
Stanley was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, 3 sisters, and his wife, Dorothy.
Stanley is survived by one brother, four sisters, his eight children, 21 grandchildren , and 43 great grand children.
Visitation will be held at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW from 12-2 PM and 4-6PM on Friday, January 25, 2019, with a Rosary at 5:30 PM. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, 2510 Richmond St. NW.
Stanley will be laid to rest beside his wife, Dorothy at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to St. Anthony's Catholic Church and to Hospice of Michigan.
Please visit www.lifestorynet.com submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.