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Richard Cerajewski

September 12, 1947 — March 22, 2024

Walkerton

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Richard Matthew Cerajewski entered the gates of heaven at 11:02 a.m. on Friday, March 22, 2024 surrounded by his loving family.  Born on Sept. 12, 1947, in Chicago, IL, he was adopted by Chester and Albina Cerajewski. Rich was the loving husband of 51 years to his wife Patricia (Toft) Cerajewski.  He was the proud father of Lindsay (Jimmy) Adams, Shannon (Joe) Walker, Courtney (Chris) Parthun, and Scott (Meagan) Cerajewski.  He was the adoring grandpa to Eva Walker and Cole Parthun, two of his very best friends.  He and his loving sister, Diane (Bob) Treski relied on each other.  They were blessed with incredible aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors who were guardian angels throughout their lives. 

From an early age, Polka music became Rich's passion and purpose.  As Rich would say, "Polka music is happy music."  Known as "Sudsy," he played piano, accordion, concertina and drums in several bands including "The Musical Aires."  He went on to play with grammy-award and International Polka Hall of Fame winning musician Eddie Blazoncyck and the Versatones as a studio pianist for 25 years.  He won several awards including 1963 International Polka Association/Polka World's Fair Contest for best band, "The Musical Aires."  He was also named the United Polka Association's 1993 Piano Player of the Year. 

Rich proudly served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1966-68.  When he returned home, his cousin, a pilot for American Airlines, urged him to apply for a job there.  It was at American Airlines (O'Hare/ORD - Chicago) where he began a decades-long career and met some of the most pivotal people in his life including his wife, Patti and best friend, Dan Betlej. Starting as a "ramp rat" on the airport tarmac, Rich worked his way up the ranks.  He worked almost every position at American Airlines except pilot or air traffic control.  He eventually became known as the "Mayor of O'Hare."  Rich treasured his American Airlines family.  He remained close with colleagues across the country, enjoying regular breakfasts, reunions, and daily communication. 

Rich grew up on the south side of Chicago and was the ultimate Chicago White Sox fan.  He ensured his four children would be lifelong Sox fans.  When they were younger, he would take them to the old Comiskey Park where they would kiss the bricks for good luck before home games.  His dream came true when the 2005 Chicago White Sox won the World Series. 

He lived in Chicago, IL until the family moved to their summer home on Fish Lake, IN in 1994. Fish Lake held a special place in Rich's heart from an early age.  His dad and uncles built the family cottage on the lake during the post-World War II era.  Rich recalled his time at the lake as some of the best moments of his childhood.  He was elated to create new memories at Fish Lake with his own family.  Retirement life on the lake was a dream come true for Rich.  Each day, he looked out at his beautiful view, calling Fish Lake, "a little slice of heaven."

Rich's family was his proudest accomplishment and his top priority.  Friends and neighbors became extended members of his close-knit family.  He was a loving and fiercely loyal friend.  He taught his children and grandchildren to be honest, hard-working and live life with integrity. 

Rich was predeceased by his parents; his beloved Uncle Al and Aunt Madeline Cerajewski; and childhood neighbors who became like parents, Phil and Viola Jarvis. 

A Celebration of Life and Honor Guard ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 2, 2024 at First Church of God, 2020 E. Lincolnway, La Porte, IN 46350. The service will be officiated by Pastor Ryan Shockey. A luncheon will follow the service. Memorial contributions can be made to the Honor Our Military Fund at Unity Foundation of La Porte County, 422 Franklin St., Suite C, Michigan City, IN 46360 or visit: https://uflc.net/funds/honor-our-military-fund/.

Condolences may be shared with the family at cutlerfuneral.com.



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