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RIP: Former St. Francis Red Flash football player Kevin Grodzki exemplified class and dignity

... A class act wherever he went, and he rose quickly in the corporate world

after showing tenacity and grit on the football field.

Hi Coach - it was great to hear from you....particularly now. Your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated as we prepare for the battles ahead. I look forward to sharing better news as the treatment advances.


Kevin Grodzki

July 13, 2021

The value of college athletics to an young person has less to do with what he or she accomplishes on the field or court or mat than what comes later.

The value can only be measured by what that person becomes after he or she leaves college and enters the real world.

For Kevin Grodzki, a native of New Brunswick, N.J. who matriculated at St. Francis College [now university] in 1973, his work as a starting guard on the football team demonstrated a tenacity for doing everyone he attempted successfully — and accomplishing that the right way.

Kevin did so with class, dignity, and compassion, qualities that he took with him into the corporate world.

In addition, his kindness and integrity were the bedrock of the family that he formed with the young woman he met at St. Francis 47 years ago, the former Marcella Mahal.

The shock of pancreatic cancer

Kevin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late June, and he survived just about five weeks. Always an optimistic man, his belief that he could battle this with treatment was evident in the little note that he emailed me after I sent him an ecard after learning of his diagnosis.

He had hoped for more time with his family, but that was not to be.

As his obituary indicated, he confronted the terrible news the way he had all of the challenges that he faced in his life, whether it was as a guard on the football team or a forward on the basketball team or as a corporate VP,

His family was shocked to learn of a late-stage pancreatic cancer diagnosis in June 2021, but Kevin handled his battle with the consummate grace and strength with which he faced all challenges. He was loving, humorous, and giving until the very end, and passed on surrounded by family as he wished.

Kevin was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. He will be deeply missed. His life exemplified supreme integrity and will provide an enduring example of what it means to be a good man to all those who knew him.

Obituary, Davenport Funeral Home, Lake Zurich, Illinois

Kevin Grodzki graduated from St. Francis in 1977 with a B.A. in accounting, according to his LinkedIn biography. He then worked for more than 20 years for the Dupont Corporation, serving as a business director of Crosfield Electronics for 20 years and then for two as chairman of the board.

Kevin then accepted a position with Witco in Bergkammen, Germany, and then became a vice-president with the Crompton Corporation after it merged with Witco in 1999.

In 2000, he was offered a position with the Brunswick Corporation as the president and CEO of its Life Fitness Division in Rosemont, Illinois. He remained with Brunswick for the rest of his career until retiring shortly after his cancer diagnosis this summer.

He became a vice-president and then president of Brunswick’s Mercury Marine Sales in 2005, and then in 2015, took his final position as VP of Communications and Public Affairs for Brunswick, a newly-created position, in January 2015.

Kevin at St. Francis in 2019 at the Shields School of Business

Kevin’s success in the corporate world should have been no surprise to those who watched him play football. As a guard on the football, he was part of an offensive line coached by Jerry Roberts and Father Jonas McCarthy that for the last two years of Jay Roberts’ career allowed the SF hall of fame running back to rush for close to 4,000 yards in his career.

And he always did it with pride, tenacity, and dignity. For five years, I used to go “upstairs” during football games, whether at Portage High School Stadium or at Georgetown, Catholic U, Duquesne, or any other opposing stadiums.

I would call the offensive plays, and Father Jonas could call down information to Jerry about the line play and the defense. Father Jonas once said about Kevin that he was one of the best guys he had ever been around in sports, and that he would be a great success in life.

As usual, Jonas was right on both counts.

Love of family and of St. Francis

Kevin and Marcella raised two sons, David and Ryan, and are grandparents to Colette and Celia. His mother, Louise, also survives.

The story his family wrote about his life was inspiring,

Kevin treasured his time at St. Francis University in Loretto, PA where he played basketball and football, and met his wife in 1974. His career spanned more than 40 years, most notably with DuPont and Brunswick Corporation, where he enjoyed roles focused on business development, communications and sustainability. He took great pride in his contributions to health and wellness during his time at Brunswick’s Life Fitness, and his zeal for travel led his family to assignments across the US, England and Germany before settling in the Chicago area in 2001.

He became a friend and role model to many and will be deeply missed for his kindness, honesty, and steadfast yet gentle leadership. Many colleagues who admired Kevin for his acumen and drive became lifelong friends due to his warmth, principles, and values. He consistently made time to mentor young graduates and frequently returned to his alma mater to teach & inspire a new generation of business leaders. Kevin loved all forms of exercise, gardening, and traveling, as well as spending time with family at his retirement home in South Carolina.

Obituary, Kevin Grodzki, Davenport Funeral Home

Kevin Grodzki epitomized what coaches, teachers, professors, and other mentors hope will happen with their students and athletes: Become a role model and a source of pride and inspiration to others.

RIP Kevin, and my sympathy to his family and close friends.

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