Richard "Twiggy" John
All who knew Richard “Twiggy” Orcholski would agree that he certainly put the spice into life. He honorably served the community he loved, and he was so much more than a police officer as he brought compassion and unconditional respect to the job each and every day. Dick was a devoted family man who instilled within his children timeless life lessons that helped shape them into the men of character who made him so very proud. He did turn into a bit of a softie when his Princess Morgan was born, and he treasured his role as a grandfather more than any other. Although he could be a bit stubborn, Dick had a great sense of humor and always told the best jokes. Life will never be the same without him here, but the mark he leaves behind in his community and on the hearts of his friends and loved ones will never fade away.
The first half of the 1940s was very much defined by WWII. Countless young servicemen and women were serving overseas while those who remained stateside planted victory gardens, gathered around radios for news from the front lines, and became familiar with rationing on numerous everyday things. It was during this eventful time that a young couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was pleased to announce the birth of their son on July 7, 1944. Richard John was the youngest of four children born to his parents, August T. and Harriet Mary (Knoppa) Orcholski. He was of Polish descent, which was of great importance throughout his entire life, and he was raised in the family home on Humboldt Avenue on the East side of Milwaukee alongside his siblings, August Jr. “Mike”, Mary, and Kathleen.
In many ways Dick experienced a childhood that reflected the times. He was an active young boy who loved things like hanging out at Pulaski Playground and swimming with friends at Caesar’s Pool. However, his favorite place to be was at the Milwaukee Boy’s Club on Franklin Place. If he could have, Dick would have been there from the time it opened until the time it closed each day. He loved all the activities there like swimming, wood shop, movies, and camping in the summer. When he was a bit older Dick became a lifeguard and a camp counselor, igniting a passion to serve others that would be reflected in his chosen career. During his youngest years Dick was a student at his parish school, St. Hedwig, where he remained through the eighth grade. From there he went to Milwaukee Boy’s Tech during his high school years, graduating in the early sixties.
Life was forever changed for Dick when he met a captivating young girl while ice skating at McKinley Marina during the winter of 1961. Dick was being his usual “life of the party” self, and in an effort to show off a bit he ended up knocking over a sweet young girl named Suzette Pizzo – quite the first impression. It’s no wonder Suzette didn’t like him at first and they went their separate ways and dated other people for a time. After falling in love, Dick and Suzie were married on April 29, 1967, at Holy Rosary Parish.
Not long after marrying the newlyweds discovered they were expecting. Dick and Suzette were overjoyed with the birth of their first son, Rich, in November of 1968. They later welcomed two more sons into their hearts and home: Frank, who was born in December of 1971, and Scott, who was born in March of 1974. As a father Dick was not overly affectionate with his sons, but they always knew they were loved as he was an active part of their lives. His children always felt safe and secure, and Dick loved having fun with his sons. He looked forward to chaperoning their school field trips as he may have even enjoyed them more than his boys did! When his sons were older and had parties at their home Dick had to make an appearance, enjoyed a quick beer, and then took off. As a family the Orcholskis often went camping with other relatives or friends. Dick loved fishing and hunting in addition to camping, and he often took his sons with him – even if he was dragging them along. Las Vegas was another one of Dick’s favorite places, and he was ready to go at the drop of a hat. He enjoyed going to the casinos and visiting a friend from grade school.
Throughout his life Dick was completely devoted to serving others. In July of 1965 he entered the National Guard. His time in the military was short lived, however, as he was honorably discharged due to medical reasons. Following his discharge, Dick began working as a police officer with the Milwaukee Police Department. One guy said he was skinny as a twig. He soon became known as “Twiggy” a name that stuck. To say he had numerous interesting experiences as a beat cop would be putting it mildly. One of his favorite experiences of the job was delivering babies – something he did on two separate occasions. He was so excited after his first delivery that he went to the hospital to check in on the mother and her baby.
Dick’s career with the Milwaukee Police Department spanned 31 years. His last five years were spent serving on the Metcalf Park Project for community policing. He made getting involved in the community a priority including everything from getting to know businesses, bringing neighbors together, and guiding and directing the kids in the neighborhood. Partnering with Master Lock, Dick helped organize baseball games or Christmas parties for local kids where he made sure that everyone received both a gift and a stocking. Dick’s work didn’t go unnoticed as he was recognized as policeman of the year by the Shepherd Express Newspaper. He found great fulfillment in impacting the lives of countless others through the positive policing that was required through his work with the Metcalf Park Project.
There was never anything that was more important to Dick than being with those he loved. His home was the place to stop on the way to the fireworks celebration on July 3rd, and he was always prepared for whoever would stop by. He lived to spoil his grandchildren, and both Morgan and Mitchell were the light of his life.
Described as old fashioned, crazy, and fun-loving, Richard “Twiggy” Orcholski, was a true gift in the lives of others. He always told it like he saw it and was completely Polish through and through. Dick was a vital part of the community he served and had a heart for children in need. He will be deeply missed and warmly remembered.
Richard J. “Twiggy” Orcholski, died on July 20, 2013. Dick’s family includes his wife Suzette; sons, Rich (Stephanie), Frank, and Scott (Sherri Sottile) Orcholski; grandchildren, Morgan and Mitchell Orcholski; siblings, Mary (Raymond) Gross, Kathleen (the late Jerome) Pawlinski. He is further survived by Peter, Russell and Julia Sottile, other relatives and friends. Dick was preceded in death by his brother, August T. “Mike” Orcholski. Visit with Dick’s family and friends on Thursday, July 25 at the Funeral Home from 4-7 p.m. Prayer Service at 7:00 p.m. Funeral Mass 10:00 a.m. Friday, July 26 at Three Holy Women Parish – Holy Rosary Church 2011 N. Oakland Avenue Interment Calvary Cemetery after (Please Meet at Church) In lieu of flowers memorials to Three Holy Women Parish, Milwaukee Boys and Girls Club or Pilot Club of Milwaukee. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Ave (414) 276-5122. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory.