Andrzej Mroz, the former Solidarity leader, local community activist and one of the most recognizable members of the Polish community died on November 19, 2022, due to complications after a cardiac arrest. He was 67.
Andrzej Antoni Mróz was born on June 21,1955 in Bliszczyce in Silesia, Poland. He obtained a vocational school diploma as carpenter, but he followed in the footsteps of his father who worked at the Wujek coalmine in Katowice, and became a coal combine operator at the Ziemowit coalmine in Tychy. He met his future wife Renata, an economist and logistic specialist when they both were 16 years old; they married in 1979.
Very active in the Solidarity free trade movement in Poland, Andrzej became the Solidarity chairman at the Ziemowit, at the time the biggest coalmine in Poland. After the Martial Law was declared on December 13, 1981, he led the sit-in-strike at the coalmine and organized aid to striking miners and their families. He was imprisoned twice in the internment camps in Zabrze-Zaborze, Uherce and Nowy Łupków. In the camps he went on a hunger strike in support of fellow inmates and was involved in printing a samizdat Solidarity bulletin and other forms of resistance.
After release from prison, Andrzej and his family were constantly harassed by the communist security agents and eventually forced by the authorities to leave Poland. In June 1983, he arrived in Seattle with his wife Renata and toddler daughter Agnieszka. His second daughter Katarzyna was born in Seattle in 1984. To support the family, he started as a carpenter again and then ran a contractor business.
Always an activist, Andrzej became very involved in the local Polish community, serving at different functions both at the Polish Home Association / Polish Cultural Center and at the Polish Parish of St. Margaret’s and helping with different projects and events. Faith was very important to him, and so he was involved in Parish life throughout his time in Seattle. Among others he was instrumental in making remodeling to St. Margaret’s after the Polish community established its parish there while the church was in a very poor shape.
Most people remember him in his smart coalminer gala uniform and as a flag bearer at different Polish events and national holidays. He was an important part of the Polish Festival at the Seattle Center presenting a Solidarity exhibition with his mementos. His story was also featured at length in the documentary movie about Polish community of Seattle “Passing the Torch, 100 years of the Polish Home Association”. On the lighter side, his significant heft served him well for decades in the role of the beloved Santa at the annual Christmas party for kids at the Polish Hall.
For his involvement in fighting for freedom, Andrzej Mroz was decorated with the Polonia Restituta Order, which is the second highest Polish civilian order, as well as with the Cross of Freedom and Solidarity. Both those honors have been bestowed by the President of Poland.
Andrzej is survived by his wife Renata and daughters Katarzyna and Agnieszka as well as family in Poland.
In lieu of flowers, please make donation in memory of Andrzej Mroz to the Polish Home or to the St. Margaret’s Parish.
GoFundMe page: Friends of the family have set up a fundraising page to cover medical and funeral bills for Andrzej Mroz
Remembrances on Friday, December 2, 2022: