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Richard J. Grzywinski

Obituary for Richard J. Grzywinski

October 30, 2018
Galloway, New Jersey


Richard J. Grzywinski, of Galloway, NJ, age 73, transitioned out of this earthly existence on October 30, 2018 after an 8-year battle with high-grade metastatic prostate cancer. He was interred at the Steelmantown Cemetery Natural Burial Grounds in a hand-dug natural burial site and a simple ceremony along the Preservation Memorial Walk. At Richard's request to respect the natural beauty and environmental preservation of the site, the ceremony was attended by immediate relatives, invited close friends, and his minister only. A future "Celebration of Life" Ceremony is planned at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore, 75 South Pomona Road in Galloway, NJ.

Richard was predeceased by his father, Stanley Francis Grzywinski, and his mother, Mary Grzywinski, from both of whom he is said to have learned the value of living simply with loving kindness always at your side. He is also predeceased by his elder brother Raymond Grzywinski, and his elder sister Kathleen Hodge both of whom he loved dearly and from whom he is said to have learned how to meet death with dignity.

He is survived by his wonderful and much-devoted wife of 16 years, Cynthia Bonner Grzywinski, whom he credits with waking him up to the incredible beauty of life and of love. She had been steadfast in her unerring support throughout the ordeal of his cancer treatments. At the time of their marriage in 2003, she worked as an Engineering Research Psychologist at the FAA Technical Center, now retired. He is also survived by his younger brother Ronald Grzywinski of Glendale, CA, and sisters Janice Bebb of Doylestown, PA and Joyce Glackin of St. Michaels, MD.

He leaves behind his beloved son Richard Louis Grzywinski of Philadelphia in whom he found and admired tremendous courage and fortitude in the face of adversity and difficult life circumstances, and in whose sharp-witted humor he found both comfort and pleasure. He is also survived by the children of Cynthia whom he regarded and loved as his own; stepsons Benjamin Fidalgo of Galloway, NJ and Paul Fidalgo of Saco, Maine, and by sister-in-law Leslie Warren (nee Bonner) of Egg Harbor Township.

Being part of a large and loving extended family, he has also enjoyed the affections of many nieces and nephews. His four-legged friend, "Jazzy" had gotten very protective during his illness as only a dog knows how to do, and provided much comfort.

Richard earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University (1968), Engineering Science from Penn State Great Valley (1972), and Marketing and Finance from Widener University (1976). Before retirement, he was a Professional Engineer in PA and NJ and a Diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. In keeping with his love of the outdoors, he also obtained certifications as a PSIA Professional Ski Instructor and an ASA Sailing Instructor.

He began his professional career in 1968 working for the City of Philadelphia at the onset of the environmental movement that resulted in Earth Day, 1970. He had responsibility for developing the City's Solid Waste Management Plan, upgrading of air pollution control systems, phasing out of the City's archaic waste incineration practices, and planning the beginnings of waste recycling in homes and businesses. He left government service in 1974.
Over the subsequent 23 years, he took executive positions at engineering and environmental consulting firms. In 1986, recognizing the relationship between waste recycling and energy conservation, he founded Environmental and Energy Consultants, Inc. (EEC), "the kind of company at which I always wanted to work". EEC was twice voted into the top 100 firms in the Delaware Valley by Philadelphia Magazine. After 8 successful years, he sold EEC to Harding Lawson Associates (Novato, CA) where he remained as Vice President until retiring in 1997. Having found retirement somewhat unfulfilling, he taught Engineering Economics at Drexel University as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Engineering, and owned and operated the Midlantic Sailing School at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, among other ventures.

He was employed as an independent contractor to oversee the design and construction of St. Andrew by-the-Sea Lutheran Church in Atlantic City that was completed in 2006, for the expansion of the Union Baptist Temple in Bridgeton, NJ, and for installation of pollution control facilities on manufacturing plants in Los Angeles and suburban Philadelphia.

Richard believed in giving back to his community and through the years has served the civic organizations where he resided, particularly the waterfront communities of Philadelphia. Before moving to Galloway Township in 2004 from his home in the Old City Section of Philadelphia, he served for a time as President of the Old City Civic Association and Member of the Board of the Old City Special Services District.

Also as a volunteer, and with his love of sailing, he served on the Board of Trustees of Philadelphia CitySail, a non-profit 401(c) 3 providing maritime- and environmental-based education, in conjunction with the Philadelphia School District, to at-risk youth in the City. He also served a first mate of their 75-foot two-masted School Ship, the "North Wind", berthed at Penn's Landing, and then as Interim Executive Director.

He also volunteered over several seasons in the Adaptive Skiing programs at Jack Frost/Big Boulder Ski Areas in the Pocono Mountains. This program enabled skiers with a wide range of disabilities to participate in alpine skiing by using special equipment and specially-trained instructors of which he was one.

Richard and his wife, Cynthia, shared a deep respect for all life on earth and were personally committed to a 100% plant-based food regimen. They organized South Jersey Animal Advocates where they could be found promoting animal rights and vegan diets at community fairs in South Jersey, and raising funds for animal welfare organizations.

Richard and Cynthia were married at First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia in February 2003 and soon after discovered the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore (UUCSJS) in Galloway Township, their spiritual home since that time. Richard and Cynthia sang in the choir (until Richard used up his allotment of sour notes) and Cynthia often plays piano and flute at services. Over his years at UUCSJS, he delivered over 35 sermons there and at other UU congregations in NJ/PA/DE. In 2008, as a volunteer, he managed the design and construction of the UUCSJS Center in Galloway, a 7.000+ sq. ft. "green" building utilizing the highest available standards, techniques and material for environmentally conscious construction. He served as three-time delegate to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly. He also completed 1-1/2 years of study towards a Master of Divinity at Meadville-Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Richard was an avid social justice advocate as part of the Social Justice Ministry of UUCSJS. He led the local anti-war movements within the George W. Bush presidencies, and organized the Occupy 99% protests against local banking institutions who had been foreclosing on properties in Atlantic County. On the heels of hurricane Sandy, he served as Board Member and Treasurer of the Atlantic City Long Term Recovery Group (ACLTRG), setting up the ACLTRG cloud-based financial management system ensuring the efficient and well-documented receipt and distribution of Sandy Recovery funds and services.

Richard and Cynthia were Buddhist practitioners. They followed the particular teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, and organized the South Jersey Secular Buddhist Sangha that continues to meet bi-monthly at UUCSJS.

Richard and Cynthia enjoyed sharing the challenges of the New York Times Daily and Sunday Crossword puzzles, and occasional Pinochle with sister Leslie Warren and Terry Marzo. Long-time subscribers to the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Bay Atlantic Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, they enjoyed music and the visual arts of all genres. He was a particular admirer of the writings of Patrick O'Brian, Thomas Hardy, William Shakespeare, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Together, he and Cynthia enjoyed ballroom dancing and European travel. He recently completed a "Novella" entitled "Red Fence' which he had published on Amazon before his passing.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend Richard's "Celebration of Life" Ceremony at UUCSJS on a future date, to be announced. To share your fondest memory of Richard please visit

The family requests in lieu of flowers please send donations in Richard's memory to UUCSJS, 75 S. Pomona Road, Galloway, NJ or to the Humane Society of Atlantic County, via their web site.

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