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Beyond the Byline: Farewell Sid and Sue

Friday, October 26, 2018  
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Times Leader

by Bill O'Boyle

 

Beyond the Byline: Farewell Sid and Sue

 

SCRANTON — Rev. Francis Pauselli, pastor at Divine Mercy Parish, said the late Michael “Sid Michaels” Kavulich once told him that he didn’t want his funeral to be a big deal.

Well, it was.

Kavulich died last Tuesday and his burial service was held Monday. The church was packed with his family, friends, colleagues and many more who came to say their final goodbye to a really good guy.

Rev. Pauselli said Sid told him he wanted a simple Mass.

“And don’t carry on too much,” Pauselli said Sid told him, adding, “And then put me in my backyard with my dead pets.”

As the funeral Mass continued, I noticed Sid’s wife, Linda, had taken her shoes off, I guess to feel comfortable. And that’s what the large group gathered in church wanted this day — comfort. Because they all were dealing with the loss of a great husband, father, grandfather, colleague and community icon.

And comfort they got. From the funny stories told by Rev. Pauselli and Sid’s two daughters, Loni and Ariel, who each told heartfelt stories and some funny ones, to the beautiful music that Sid would be certain to sing along to. People laughed and they cried. It was like sitting around a fireplace at home listening to those great old stories. It had that genuine feel of true sincerity and an immense sense of loss.

These stories and many more will be told for decades to come about a man who once was known for “being everywhere.” That was back in the day when Sid Michaels and Jim Miller put local high school sports coverage on the map. They showed us all how to seriously cover our local athletes because, they would tell you, the kids deserve it. I can still see those WBRE-TV promos with Sid and Jim and that slogan, “They’re everywhere.”

I got to know Sid when I was president of Teeners’ League Baseball in Luzerne County. Every year we would hold an awards banquet. I never had to ask Jim and Sid to come — they would always call me and ask what time they should be there. And they would speak to the kids and they would give coverage to the young athletes because they knew how important it was to the kids and to the organization.

And that genuine concern for kids and community carried over to Sid’s work in the state legislature. I know that Sid never decided anything on what was good for the party — he measured everything by what was best of his constituents and his state. That was Sid Michaels Kavulich.

His daughter, Loni, said Sid “faithfully lived his life” and put everyone before himself. He took pride in everything he did, she said.

“And in each stage of his life, he made an impact,” Loni said. “If he were able to tell us today, he would say don’t be sad, be happy.”

That’s what I will always remember first about Sid — his smile. Yes, I will remember his dedication, his genuine concern for everything and everybody and his love of his family. But that smile will never go away.

Because of the way he lived his life, Sid will forever be everywhere.

Remembering Sue

And then there was Sue Gryziec, who was killed in a car accident last week.

Sue was the owner and operator of Flowers And in Plymouth. But for 15 years, Sue was right in the middle of my favorite summer event — the annual Plymouth Alive Kielbasa Festival.

Sue was a fixture in town. Like Sid, she was everywhere she had to be to make sure the festival went off without a hitch. From selling T-shirts to organizing the kielbasa contest, to dancing to the music of all the bands, Sue was the spirit of the Kielbasa Festival.

Just this past July, I asked Sue if she could get me 150 long-stem roses to be given to all women attending the Wyoming Valley West High School Class of 1968 50th reunion. Sue made it happen. I picked them up on the day of the reunion and Sue gave me a “stripper” to remove the thorns and leaves from the roses. She even showed me how to do it.

“It’s easy,” she said.

What was easy was liking Sue and appreciating everything she did for so many people. And she did it all without the slightest expectation of reward. She did so much just because she wanted to do all she could to make her hometown look good and for people to have fun.

Once again I am reminded of that story about the dash — you know, that little line between a person’s birth year and the year of their death. The dash represents all those years in between.

For Sid and Sue, their dashes would stretch around the world and back.


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