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.
Dear Mr. Wujcik,
I have been a dedicated Palladium player since 1987. One of the first role playing games I played was your TMNT game and afterwards was a Rifts player, of which you helped. I am sad to hear about your condition and want you to know that you will be remembered as a great man who inspired me with my own ideas. Thank you very much for everything that you have given and God bless you.
Dear Mr. Wujcik, (Are you Polish?)
Hi. I’m not very eloquent or skilled at this sort of thing. I’m very saddened about your condition, and even though we’ve never met, I would like you to know that my prayers are with you and you have a friend in me. I have played your TMNT game in the past, and enjoyed it very much (wish I didn’t hock all my Palladium books before college).
You will be remembered by all who know and love you. Because of the legacy that you made for yourself you’ll also be remembered by those that don’t know you personally. For those of us who don’t know you personally, it makes me wish that we did, or at least I did (if that makes any sense). As Kevin Siembieda put it in his December 22, 2007 entry, you’re a “true game designing genius” and “a true bohemian”. People that know you on a personal level won’t ever forget you, and your memory will live on not only in the lives you touched personally, but also the people you touch from the stories and games you’ve written.
Thank you living, for living now, and for living in our hearts and minds in the future. To Mr. Erick Wujcik, an immortal to all who know of him.
I hope this entry finds you in a good spirits.
God bless you.
Andre Duda (aka PlainDre)
Eric, I am glad to be able to boast that I have gotten to Role Play with you at least once. My First delve into RPG was your own Amber and Kningt of Shadows. Hopefully I’ll be able to RPG with you and the late, great Roger Zelazney when I make that trip to the other side.
I wish you all peace and joy in your time remaining here and even more when you have left this world. You are one of God’s special creations.
God Bless you always.
– Joel of Tolkeen –
I just wanted to express how much I’ve enjoyed your games, particularly Amber and Rifts. Someone told me once that when good people are taken early its because the gods are jealous and want that person for themselves. I’m not a religious man, but I find it easy to believe in your case. I hope you know you’ll be missed, but as long as people play RPGs you’ll never be forgotten.
Rest in Peace Erick « Discolor Online
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