Sunday, November 19, 2023
1:00 - 6:00pm (Central time)
Monday, November 20, 2023
9:00 - 11:00am (Central time)
Monday, November 20, 2023
11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)
Richard Frank Suwanski, 72, of Owensboro, passed away one day before his 73rd birthday on November 15, 2023, and was surrounded by his family while under the care of Hospice of Western Kentucky. Richard was born on November 16, 1950, in Chicago, IL, to the late Joseph J. and Genevieve Kula Suwanski.
Rich graduated from Weber High School in Norridge, Illinois, in 1968 before pursuing further studies at Kentucky Wesleyan College. In 1973, he earned his Bachelor's in Physical Education from Kentucky Wesleyan. While at the college, he joined the Sigma Nu Fraternity, competed in cross country, and played basketball as a freshman. His journalism career took root at Kentucky Wesleyan, where he started writing sports articles for the college's Panogram newspaper. While in college, Rich met his future wife and the love of his life, Janet Laswell. In 2003, he was the recipient of the KWC Alumni Service Award.
In 1974, he began a distinguished journalism career with the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, culminating in his retirement in 2015. As a sports reporter and editor from 1974 to 2005, Rich extensively covered local, regional, and national sporting events. The highlights of his career were reporting on the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers, and the University of Kentucky Wildcats for over four decades, tasks he immensely enjoyed. From 2005 to 2015, Rich served as the newspaper's Health and Community Services reporter. While at the newspaper, Rich earned multiple writing accolades from the Kentucky Press Association, including seven first-place awards.
Raised in the Catholic faith, he converted to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1972. He was a member of Century Christian and then First Christian Church.
Beyond his journalism career, Rich led a life full of numerous talents and activities. An avid painter, he had a passion for creating landscape and floral designs. Over the years, he completed hundreds of paintings, many of which were gifted to friends and family or acquired by numerous admirers. Always on the move, Rich relished running and later took up cycling, logging thousands of miles in the early mornings. In his journalism career, while he reported on various sports and teams, Rich had his personal favorites that he always rooted for. He supported nearly all Chicago sports teams, including the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls. Regionally, he fervently supported the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers, the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and the Owensboro High School Red Devils' football and basketball teams. In 2023, Rich was bestowed the title of Kentucky Colonel.
For Rich, family was the most cherished aspect of his life, and he deeply valued the moments shared with his wife, Janet, their children, and grandchildren. Getaways with family and friends often led them to Panama City Beach, where, true to his Chicago heritage, Rich promptly found the closest Florida equivalent to a Chicago-style hotdog to deliver to his Owensboro friends on the beach. They also enjoyed annual trips to Chicago to explore his old neighborhood, visit family, and eat at Luke's for an authentic Vienna beef hot dog and Italian beef sandwich. He and Janet frequently visited California and Nashville to see their children and grandchildren. He also enjoyed time with friends who shared his witty sense of humor.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his parents-in-law, Tom and Martha Laswell.
Those left to cherish his memory and tell his story include his loving wife of 50 years, Janet Laswell Suwanski; daughters, Jill Suwanski and her husband Erik Wiesenhahn of Nashville, TN, and Ellen S. Jones and her husband Matt of Costa Mesa, CA, and grandchildren Hendrix H. Jones and Larkin B. Jones.
The funeral service for Rich Suwanski will be at 11 am on Monday, November 20, 2023, at First Christian Church, with Reverend Chris Michael officiating. Visitation will be from 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm Sunday, November 19, at Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory and from 9 am until the time of service Monday at the church. Entombment will follow the funeral at Owensboro Memorial Gardens in Christ Chapel.
The funeral service will be live-streamed on the First Christian Church Facebook page.
Expression of sympathy may take the form of contributions to The Goodfellows Club, c/o Messenger-Inquirer 1401 Frederica Street Owensboro, Kentucky 42301, Foundation for Excellence Owensboro Independent Schools, 450 Griffith Ave, Owensboro, KY, 42301, and Kentucky Wesleyan College, 3000 Frederica Street Owensboro, KY 42301.
Messages and condolences for the family can be shared at www.glenncares.com.