Happy birthday to you, sir!

Warren man celebrates 105th birthday in the company of family

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 13, 2016


WARREN — When Walter Kmiecik was 19 years old, he took a trip by ship across the Atlantic to visit family in Poland.

Of course, the photos from that journey have faded over the years, and Kmiecik’s memories of it maybe aren’t quite as sharp as they once were.

After all, he turned 105 years old on March 6.

The day before, family members gathered around him at the St. Clair Shores Moose Lodge on Harper to celebrate his tremendous milestone birthday.

Born in Detroit in 1911, Kmiecik grew up near the city’s border with Hamtramck and later worked as a leader at the Packard Automotive Plant for 37 years. He later spent a decade at General Motors Co. prior to his retirement.

Married to his wife, Josephine, who died in 1991, Kmiecik built his home in Warren near Stephens and Mound by himself in 1941.

“It was all farmland,” he said of the area near his home, only the third on the street when he built it.

The couple had three children together. At the 105-year milestone, Kmiecik has six grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.

While working and taking care of his family, Kmiecik bowled for 25 years in Hamtramck. He enjoyed fishing in his free time and also spent 85 years raising and racing pigeons.

“I gave ’em up about three or four years ago. I had ’em since I was a little one,” Kmiecik said. “That was the best fun I had.”

Asked about his longevity, Kmiecik said he never envisioned it as a younger man.

“I didn’t, and I’m still kicking,” he said.

Kmiecik said he’s always enjoyed growing fresh garden vegetables without fertilizer.

“I don’t like to pick ’em, but I like to eat ’em,” he said.

As for his favorite foods, he still enjoys a variety of things but really seems to like the sweet stuff.

“Ice cream, chocolate, chicken legs,” Kmiecik said. “Chicken legs are good. Every time I got a chance to buy chicken legs, I bought them.”

The secret to his long life, he said, is that it came to him unexpectedly.

“Just live it right through. Don’t try to live a long life,” Kmiecik said.

Walter’s grandson, Les Kmiecik, said his grandfather has lived a very disciplined life, was always caring and always wanted to help.

“He’s been a real good grandfather. He was very respected around here. Everybody knew him,” Les Kmiecik said.