Patricia Paruch, seen here alongside her husband, David, took a leave of absence from her seat on the Royal Oak City Commission after her cancer diagnosis led her to enter hospice care.

Patricia Paruch, seen here alongside her husband, David, took a leave of absence from her seat on the Royal Oak City Commission after her cancer diagnosis led her to enter hospice care.

Photo provided by the city of Royal Oak

Royal Oak commissioner leaves seat in wake of cancer diagnosis

Commission votes to rename city park in her honor

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published August 23, 2023


ROYAL OAK — Due to a cancer diagnosis earlier this year, Royal Oak City Commissioner Patricia Paruch announced she will be stepping away from the commission and entering hospice care.

Paruch revealed in a statement that she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in May and that, after speaking with her family and doctors, decided that fighting the disease wasn’t an option for her and that she would end cancer treatments and enter hospice.

“During this time I have come to the realization that death is just a moment in time, and I intend to spend the precious time I have left surrounded by my family and friends in the city I love,” she stated.

Paruch stated that serving the residents of Royal Oak has been “both a privilege and distinct honor that I have cherished.”

“I want to thank this community, including its residents, my former and current colleagues, and everyone I have worked with, for giving me the chance to help move this great city forward,” she said. “It certainly was not without its challenges, but I am truly proud of what we all have accomplished together over the years.”

Paruch was first elected to the City Commission in 1979 at the age of 28. She later would run — and win her bid— to become mayor 10 years later. She won reelection in 1991 but decided not to run for another term and instead pursued a career in law. Paruch returned to the commission in 2014 after she was appointed to serve a term vacated by Peggy Goodwin.

Paruch will remain on leave for the duration of her term, which will expire at the end of the year. She already had planned to not seek reelection to the commission. The commission will not appoint a replacement during this time.

After her initial announcement of her decision, Paruch stated in a Facebook post her thanks for the “overwhelming amount of support, prayers and good wishes” from everyone’s messages.

“I have read through tears every single email, card, and message, and the flowers and tokens of good will that have been sent are a joy to behold. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

“As to how I am doing, I’m weak but able to walk from the easy chair to the shady patio on my own with someone at my elbow. I’m still getting visitors and can still discuss city stuff if people have questions. Some days I sleep a lot. This respite period has been a truly wonderful opportunity for us as a family to go through old photos, Grandma’s recipe books, and family heirlooms, and to tell great stories. The tissue box is always close by. Not everyone is given this blessed opportunity,” she continued.

“We are so fortunate to live in such a caring community. Our family is grateful for everything that you’ve done to support us. I love you all.”

Mayor Michael Fournier spent about 10 years working with Paruch on the commission. He told C & G Newspapers that she was “ever present” with her demeanor, temperament and well-researched approach to every subject, no matter how contentious the issue might be.

Fournier said the job is a tough one, but it was made easier with someone like Paruch around to be a mentor.

“She’s a reminder about how this job is a selfless duty and that nothing really would get to her, because she just understands that everything that she’s doing is … for the community,” he said.

“She would always — very succinctly, before she’d cast a vote — would explain, like a seasoned trial attorney, explain the situation, the facts, the duties we’re charged with, and the rationale for what the proper vote would be,” he continued. “I think often that’s missed in contemporary politics. Today, everything’s about emotion and fear and fanning flames. Well, for decades, Pat has always been that ideal example and inspiration of what an elected public servant should be.”

At its Aug. 14 meeting, the Royal Oak City Commission voted to approve a recommendation to rename Waterworks Park to Patricia Paruch Park. Located on Marywood Drive and Lloyd Avenue, the park will be rechristened to honor the longtime public servant.

“It’s a shame that sometimes you wait till people pass before we tell them how much we respect and love them,” Fournier said. “I think, anyways, a park would have been named after her when you look at her history. This just sort of moved it a little quicker.”