“Who loves you, baby?” was Alexander “Skip” Stadnik’s catchphrase. One that Johnnie Goodnight would give anything to hear again. “We’ve always loved you right back, Skip Stadnik, and we always will,” wrote Goodnight, a Wilton Manors resident and employee who worked with “Skip” on the Community Affairs Advisory Board [CAAB].
“I’m sure people knew his kindness. He always wanted people to feel happy and cared about. When I first met “Skip” I didn’t like him. The longer I got to know him, the better I got to know him, it started a wonderful love affair for 45 years,” said his widow, Ruthanne Stadnik. “It was never a merry go round. It was always a roller coaster with him. It was never the same mundane thing.”
Stadnik, 84, died on May 7.
“At the end, he was just suffering so bad. He just knew he was never going to get better. He was miserable,” said Ruthanne. So, he signed a “Do Not Resuscitate” order. “He was gone within three weeks. He was determined to stay alive until his granddaughter graduated from college and she did last Wednesday.”
He was one of Wilton Manors’ most-celebrated volunteers. He was a fixture on the Community Affairs Advisory Board [CAAB] for over 10 years and at a multitude of city events, including Veteran’s Day.
At the last Veteran’s Day ceremony in November, Stadnik told the story of how he got his nickname, “Skip.” Stadnik, who had been in and out of the hospital struggling with health problems, said that it would probably be the last time he told the story. While in the Army, his fellow soldiers would yell “skip it” when Stadnik’s name came up during mail call. “The guys started yelling ‘skip it, damn’t.”
Stadnik served from 1952 to 1958 and four years after that in the reserves. He briefly served again during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. He talked about his service in a previous Gazette article. “I didn’t get there [to Korea] until the actual fighting was over. I had to spend three weeks over in Korea. Then, I came back and served my four years in the Reserve in South Florida. When the Cuban Missile Crisis happened, I had to put my uniform again and go back in. I trained a lot of medics.”
A pharmacist by trade, Stadnik moved to Wilton Manors in 1979 with Ruthanne. Over the course of their 45-year marriage, she was a public school teacher and the two had a spa and hot tub business, as well as general construction and roofing. “Skip” also did some pool design work before he retired in his early 60s.
Ruthanne said he always had some new invention or business scheme up his sleeve. He was a consummate salesman, she said. “He just wasn’t an ordinary nine to five kind of guy . . . He could sell like no one I ever saw. He could sell ice to an Eskimo. He was just that kind of personality. Always smiling, never angry or sad. He just looked at the bright side of things.”
But the end of his professional career only meant more time for volunteering. For his efforts, “Skip” was honored by the city on his 80th birthday, given the key to the city, and the veteran chosen by Wilton Manors to be its honoree at the United Way of Broward County’s Mayor’s Gala in 2016.
Mayor Gary Resnick often comments on how fortunate the city is to have a wealth of volunteers for its advisory boards. “You and Ruthanne both are what makes our community great,” he told the Stadnik’s last year. “We’re very blessed to have such great volunteers.”
“Skip” responded to the mayor, “You’re not paid in any form except knowing you’re doing a good thing. The rewards of seeing happy faces is out of this world. I always like to say, ‘God loves you and so do I.’”
A celebration of life in honor of Stadnik will be held on Saturday, May 12 from 12 to 2 p.m. at Island City Park Preserve, 823 NE 28 St., Wilton Manors. Attendees are invited to dress casually. “Loving Participation welcomed.”