Ed Gorczyca has lived a lot of life in his nine decades
The Parma Heights resident just turned 90 on April 26. He freely admits that he loves coming to Yorktown Service Plaza.
“I’m here anywhere from three to five times a day,” he said with a big smile. At least one of those visits is for a cup of coffee, as was the case on a recent sunny Monday afternoon. Another visit will be for his daily purchase of lottery tickets.
Gorczyca has been a “regular” at Yorktown since 1973.
A widower, Gorczyca thinks of the staff and patrons of Yorktown as his extended family. He’s a father of three, and grandfather of two.
Gorczyca is a highly decorated Army Infantry war hero, having served at Anzio in World War II. For his military service, he was awarded two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts – visible signs of the injuries he sustained are still visible on his lower torso and back – and a Good Conduct Medal.
“They don’t make you any different than anybody else,” he said of his military honors.
Gorczyca was, like most men of his generation, proud to serve his country. His self-effacing manner belies a true pride and sense of responsibility and duty.
After the war, he worked for 30 years as a recruiter for the U.S. Navy, a job he retired from on June 29, 1973.
He met his late wife, Stella, and recounted the fun they used to have dancing at the now defunct Aragon Ballroom on West 25th Street in Cleveland.
Appearances by big band leaders Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Paul Monroe were high points Gorczyca cheerfully recalls with a smile.
“If you were a single guy in those days looking to meet a girl, the women were lined up four deep along the whole length of the ballroom,” he remembered.
After the passing of his wife of 40 years, Gorczyca said he was fortunate to meet another “lovely lady.” They too, used to enjoy dancing together. Sadly, she has also passed away.
Gorczyca is very active for a nonagenarian. He loves spending Sundays with his family: daughter Maria, 51 resides in Solon; daughter Lucia, 54, lives in Cincinnati, and son, Jon, 57 lives in Parma.
Granddaughters Rachel, 19, and Samantha, 16, are the apples of his eye. Rachel just finished her first year at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, and Samantha will be a senior this fall at Padua Franciscan High School on State Road.
He attends Mass at St. John Bosco Catholic Church with regularity, enjoys watching sports on TV – the Indians are a favorite – and said he looks forward to coming to Yorktown each day.
He visits with his friends, many of whom are also “regulars,” and passes time while getting his Green Nissan worked on.
“I don’t think there’s any gas station around that services as many cars as this place does,” he said. “And this (convenience store) packs them in.”
On a recent day, Gorczyca said he sat down by the window with a cup of coffee and counted 146 cars in less than a two hour period.
“They just know how to handle people,” he said.
Every Wednesday, Yorktown provides full service at it’s gas pumps. Something unheard of in the auto industry any more.
For Gorczyca, it’s the people that keep him coming back for more.
“These people really know and care about their customers. It’s a family business that really cares about other families. They call their customers by their first names, and it’s genuine. And I think people come here because they know that they care.”