Richard Stanley Krolak

Richard Stanley Krolak

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Richard “Dick” Krolak was a man of adventure; playing drums in a jazz band, racing cars, serving his country, raising a family, and having a wonderful sense of humor, claiming to be the world’s greatest free-style whistler.

Richard Stanley Krolak’s adventure began in Chicago, Ill., on March 14, 1932. The oldest of the second generation Polish/American Krolak/Krolczyk family, he grew up with an extended family of aunts and uncles in Chicago’s South Side Bridgeport neighborhood.

He won a scholarship to Chicago’s Weber High School where he played varsity football and basketball. He also received a scholarship to St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, Kans., where he excelled academically, enrolled in ROTC, lettered in football and basketball and was a member of the St. Benedict Ravens team that won the 1954 NAIA Division I College Basketball Championship.

Meanwhile his parents and younger sister moved to Woodruff, Wis., and opened a restaurant and resort called “Krolak’s Kitchen” on Brandy Lake. During college breaks, Dick would help as a waiter and bartender.

After college, Dick was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals (who later became the St. Louis Cardinals and are now the Arizona Cardinals) but honoring his ROTC commitment, in 1956 enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps and going straight to Officer’s Candidate School in Quantico. A young Lieutenant Krolak became part of the Navy Diving Team and served as an ordinance and underwater demolition expert in Japan where the Team was charged with neutralizing bombs and mines leftover from World War II in the Sea of Japan. He also served in Thailand and other areas in the Pacific. Soon after, he was posted to Camp Pendleton, Calif. There, whilst pursuing his Marine Corp duties, he wooed, courted and won the hand of the charming Miss Mary Ruth McClymond, whom he married on July 25, 1959.

Together Mary and Dick, pursued a life of travel as a military family. They had six children throughout the 1960s and early 1970s (five sons and one daughter), while posted in Camp Pendleton, Stimpson Beach, Calif., Knoxville, Tenn,, Quantico and Camp Lejeune, N.C. He served several tours in Vietnam, once as one of President Kennedy’s “peaceful advisors” in the early 1960s and later (1967-1968) as a major in the 3rd Marine Division, leading an engineering company. Once he returned home, Dick played football and catch with the kids, involved them in scouting and pinewood derbies, and taught them to sail, especially on the family’s 35-foot sailboat Andromeda. In 1975, Dick Krolak retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 20 years of service.

This time Dick decided to go on another adventure, moving the family aboard Andromeda and voyaging through the east coast’s intracoastal waterways. While the adventure called for the family to end up in the Caribbean, engine problems dictated otherwise, and Andromeda and the Krolak family ended up in Annapolis. There Dick and Mary decided to buy a house and settle down for a bit. Dick worked as a civil engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration and was hired by Maryland’s State Aviation Administration where he went on to redesign and expand the Baltimore Washington International airport. After retiring from State service, he became the director of planning and zoning for the City of Annapolis.

Eventually Dick and Mary purchased a home in White Stone, and moved there to play golf and enjoy their water views in a quiet setting and enjoying the amenities of the beautiful Northern Neck. He worked briefly for York County before retiring yet again. But adventure called again when a recruiter from the UK asked him to consider a position that would enlist his civil and environmental engineering expertise to lead Bermuda’s Department of Planning. He was brought in to address and develop structural defenses to help preserve the reefs, he also led the effort to update the Island’s building codes and streamline permit operations. Dick, Mary and their youngest son, Michael, moved to the Atlantic Island for three years.

After several years in Bermuda shorts and pink sands, Krolak returned to his home in White Stone and the Northern Neck. There, he attended church at St. Frances de Sales Catholic Church, sang in the choir and served his community through the Knights of Columbus and volunteer efforts. The Tides’ Golf Courses served as the venues of the Krolak Family Golf Tournament held annually on Labor Day weekend. It was a chance for all the kids, family and friends, to come together to enjoy each other’s company.

Wonderful memories like these will sustain us as we mourn his passing on Thursday, October 20, 2022, at the age of 90 in Annapolis. He died peacefully; surrounded by his sons and daughters-in-law. Near the end, Dick related that he saw wife Mary, who had passed in February 2021, waiting for him by the side of his bed. The family is comforted knowing they are together again, experiencing a final great adventure.

Dick was preceded in death by his mother, Lottie Theresa Krolczyk and father, Stanley Aloysius Krolak of Chicago; his infant son, John Charles Krolak; and his beloved wife and soul mate, Mary Ruth McClymond Krolak.

He is survived by his son, Richard Gregory and wife Stephanie, four grandsons Jack, Theo, Max and Zachary Krolak; son, Joseph and wife Donna Morrow; son, William Alan; son, Michael Romuald and wife Hope Krolak; and daughter, Kristin Marya Krolak; his sister, Marylin Krolak; nephew, Anthony James Krolak and wife Jennifer Schmidt Krolak; great nieces, Zoe and Cora Krolak; and nephew, Matthew John Krolak and wife Joan Petrakos Krolak and great nephew Harper Krolak.

Richard Stanley Krolak will be interred with honors next to his wife, Mary, and son, John, at Knoxville National Cemetery in Tennessee. A family memorial will take place.

He asked his family to post this poem on his behalf: 

Immortality

Do not stand

By my grave, and weep.

I am not there,

I do not sleep—

I am the thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glints in snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle, autumn rain.

As you awake with morning’s hush,

I am the swift, up-flinging rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight,

I am the day transcending night.

Do not stand

By my grave, and cry—

I am not there,

I did not die.

Clare Harner, 1934