Michael William Szucs, a devoted father, brother, uncle and friend, died peacefully at his Martinez home on November 21, 2021. His son and daughter were by his side. He was 85.
A Buffalo, New York native, "Mike" as he was best known, was the oldest of seven children. He and his siblings grew up in an industrial area along the Niagara River and spent their youth at their father's boathouse. They fished, swam, boated, and adapted to the vagaries of the seasons along the Niagara, earning the moniker "river rats."
In the summer of 1944, a polio outbreak swept the East Coast. Mike, then 8, contracted the debilitating disease and permanently lost the use of his right leg. He remained in the children's polio ward for a year. Here, he developed the social skills that would become the hallmark of his good nature. Each morning, he'd maneuver his wheelchair—and when stronger, crutches and an orthotic leg brace—across the hospital to greet other patients. Some were confined to iron lungs; many did not survive. Mike considered himself lucky.
In 1954, Mike graduated from Kenmore High in Buffalo, NY. Shortly after, he took an administrative position at Bethlehem Steel Corporation and began studies at the University of Buffalo. While changing a flat tire in a miserable snowstorm, Mike made the decision to move to California for good weather.
At 21, Mike moved to Los Angeles, and he never looked back. He completed his B.A. in English at Cal State University Los Angeles and began working as a placement interviewer for the Employment Development Department (EDD). He met and married a beautiful student nurse named Yvonne. The couple moved to the Bay area, where they welcomed a daughter and son. He worked for the EDD for 41 years before enjoying retirement.
A self-taught guitarist with a natural baritone voice, Mike spent many evenings playing guitar and singing. In the 1990s, he and a fellow musician recorded a short CD on professional recording equipment. They later performed in front of a live audience. Mike enjoyed fishing with his son Michael, meeting his friend Jack for lunch, and boating with his brother Pat. He was close with his daughter Lisa, and the two shared many happy times.
Mike is survived by his daughter, Lisa Szucs of Benicia; son Michael Szucs and daughter-in-law Megan Sullivan of Mesa, AZ; sister Pauline Rovison (Szucs) and brother John Szucs, of Buffalo, NY; Robert "Bob" Szucs, of Lake Jackson, TX; and Patrick Szucs of Fairfield, CA. He is preceded in death by his sisters Diane and Mary Ann Szucs, and his parents Anna and Michael Szucs. He leaves behind beloved nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law, and friends.
Please join us for a Celebration of Life Saturday, January 22, 2022, 11:00 AM at Ouimet Bros. Concord Funeral Chapel at 4125 Clayton Road Concord, CA. We welcome attendance via live stream at https://www.ouimetbrothers.com/tributes/Michael-Szucs.