Mercedes Joan Blaszczyk (1927-2021)

Brooks Sutherland, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
·3 min read

May 3—Mercedes Joan Blaszczyk, a former Jeep typist who completed a cross-country road trip for her honeymoon during a nationwide gas shortage, and was heavily involved in organizing the Lagrange Street Polish Festival right from its inception, died on April 29 at Mercy Health St. Anne Hospital. She was 93.

She fought through heart failure for a number of years, her daughter, Janice Blaszczyk said, adding that her mother persevered twice over the past two years through illnesses that could have taken her life sooner.

Ms. Blaszczyk, who was born Oct. 1, 1927, grew up in the old North End neighborhood in Toledo.

Her son, Martin Blaszczyk, got her interested in the Lagrange Street Polish Festival.

Ms. Blaszczyk worked at its information booth, sold T-shirts, and was a member of the festival's board for many years. It was a festival her family took great pride in, Janice Blaszczyk said.

"We worked very hard because we loved doing it," she said. "The Polish heritage meant a lot to her."

The festival was an opportunity to see old friends, gather with relatives, and celebrate Polish culture.

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Though other festivals have emerged, Janice Blaszczyk said she and her mother enjoyed the setup of a truly neighborhood event.

"That was the big thing, it was on the street," she said.

Ms. Blaszczyk, who was nicknamed "Babe," graduated from Woodward High School in 1945, and worked several jobs after high school before landing a job at Jeep as a typist.

In 1952, she married her husband, Frank, who also worked at Jeep.

The couple set out on a unique journey for their honeymoon. They had planned a cross-country trip to California.

Upon arriving, they were told of a nationwide gas shortage taking shape. They immediately turned around before conditions worsened, and made it home despite the shortage.

But their adventures didn't end there. They would later travel to Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico and many places in between.

Mr. Blaszczyk died in 2014.

In the 1960s, Ms. Blaszczyk took care of her own children, her ailing parents, and her husband's mother.

She was a loving caregiver who looked after many people with a selfless attitude, family members said.

"She took care of people all of her life," Janice Blaszczyk said. "There were times when my Dad, who worked at Jeep, would get laid off for two weeks, but unemployment was crazy back then. So they were living on two weeks' salary, and she found ways to scrimp and save, and she never bought new clothes. They put us through Catholic school, which was a lot of money to them. She worked her magic."

"She was amazing in that way," she added.

Ms. Blaszczyk was an avid Detroit Tigers fan, and enjoyed attending Toledo Mud Hens games with the family whenever she could.

"She'd always yell at the screen," Janice Blaszczyk said with a laugh. "I gave up on them, but she'd still watch them."

When she wasn't watching baseball, she enjoyed playing slot machines at the casino and spending time with family.

Born to Andrew and Eleanor Rawski, she was the youngest of three children.

Surviving is her daughter Janice Blaszczyk.

A visitation service for Ms. Blaszczyk was held on Sunday, and a funeral service at Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe at 114. E Alexis Rd. will take place Monday at 9:30 a.m. Attendees are asked to wear a mask.

Donations are requested to go to Regina Coeli Church or a charity of the donor's choice.