Erick Wujcik’s Birthday Celebration
By Kevin Siembieda
Yikes, we’ve been so busy I forgot to post a report about, and photos of, Erick’s Birthday Bash. It was quite an affair.
It was held Saturday, January 26, 2008, in a hall at Saint John’s Armenian Church, in Southfield, Michigan. The facilities were perfect and the food and catering service was excellent.
The place was packed, with approximately 150 people who came to wish Erick a Happy 57th Birthday and offer their heartfelt wishes. Among the guests were Erick’s sweetheart of 30 years, Katherine Kozora, his mother, Nora, and his sister, Peggy, both of whom flew in from Florida; his Aunt Mary, Uncle Sam, Cousins Lisa and Ben, their families, and several other aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews and other family members.
Among the notable guests that gamers might find interesting were the Palladium crew (Kathy, Alex, Wayne, Julius, Thom, and me), Randy McCall (co-author/creator of the original Beyond the Supernatural RPG and long time gaming pal of Erick’s and Kevin’s), artist Mike Kucharski (Amber, Amberzine and various Palladium Fantasy titles), artist and writer William Messner-Loebs, Brian Garwood (one time Palladium pal and contributor to BTS Boxed Nightmares), Matthew Balent (Palladium Weapon series, Monsters & Animals), Paula Leisure (one of Palladium’s first editors and long-time Wujcik friend) and a zillion old Detroit Gaming Center pals, and other friends and loved ones. My apologies for anyone I may have left out. Many were people who had not seen each other in 10-20 years. As one guest aptly put it, “It’s like a 25 Year High School Reunion, only I like everyone here.”
The gathering of all these people would have made a wonderful night in and of itself, as there was much reminiscing, hugs and kisses all around. But this was a special night.
As the toastmaster of the evening, I opened with a short talk, a few jokes and something very special. I had the honor and pleasure of presenting Erick Wujcik with the 2008 Ennies Lifetime Achievement Award. The great people at EN World, who make awards at Gen Con every year since 2001, contacted me to let me know they had voted to give Erick this wonderful award. Not knowing how much time Erick might have, they wanted to present it to him soon and wanted my advice. I told them about the big birthday bash and they worked quickly to get it to us so it could be presented in front of his family and friends at this very, very special gathering.
I presented the award as the kick-off of the night’s festivities. Read a prepared statement from the EN World folks. Said I could not imagine anyone more deserving of the award, and handed it to Erick. Everyone in attendance rose to their feet and gave Erick a standing ovation. It was awesome. My thanks to the ENnies Award people for this nice gesture of appreciation to my wonderful friend, Erick Wujcik. It made an already special occasion so much more special. As nice as it is to get this kind of award at a convention, I think it was so much more meaningful to have received it in the presence of 150 friends and loved ones. (Unfortunately, there was so much going on, and there was so much sentimentality and emotion throughout the night, I foolishly did NOT think of taking a close up picture of the award itself. Dumb. Sorry.)
After the award was given out, numerous people came forward to share fond stories about Erick and offer him warm well wishes. Some folks had brought photographs and I even got to see a picture of Erick at age 19 WITHOUT HIS BEARD. A shocking sight as I was pretty convinced that Erick was born with a beard and a full crop of curly black hair. (Thanks Paula!)
The night ended with his nieces and nephews singing him Happy Birthday (with most everyone in the audience chiming in) and Erick giving a short speech of appreciation.
Everyone had a wonderful time and even the caterers said they had never seen an event like this, and with so many people, as nice as this one. I know it is a memory I will cherish for a long, long time. To me it was not only a celebration of Erick, but a celebration of friendship and kindness. A tribute to the joy, love and accomplishment you can reap when you live a good life and welcome new friends and ideas with open arms. Not only were these friends of Erick’s, but many were friends with one another because of Erick. It was grand.
For your gratification and enjoyment, we offer a small selection of photos from that evening’s festivities.
On Behalf of the Friends & Family of Erick Wujcik
Copyright © January 29, 2008 Palladium Books Inc., All rights reserved, worldwide.