Obituaries

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Peter J. MroczykPolish Broadcaster

Peter J. Mroczyk, 60, a Polish radio and TV broadcaster who was active in the Solidarity movement and later worked with Voice of America, died Dec. 19 of pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a Warsaw hospital. He lived in Falls Church.

Mr. Mroczyk was born in Poznan, Poland. He had a British mother and grew up speaking English and Polish, which served him well in broadcasting.

After graduating from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, he began working with the Polish national radio and TV networks. He primarily delivered English-language broadcasts about events in Poland and around the world.

In 1980, Mr. Mroczyk founded and became chairman of Solidarity for Polish Radio and Television, a trade union that played an active part in political upheaval in Poland at the time. When martial law was imposed in Poland in 1981, Mr. Mroczyk was imprisoned for a year and then expelled from the country.

He first lived in England, where he worked for BBC radio, then came to the United States. Under the mantle of the U.S. Information Agency, he went on a nationwide lecture tour in 1983 to describe the political state of Eastern Europe.

In 1984, Mr. Mroczyk began working with Voice of America, delivering broadcasts in Polish to his homeland. He served as Lech Walesa's translator when the founder of the Solidarity movement appeared at the White House and Capitol in 1989. Over the years, Mr. Mroczyk was often asked to comment on Polish political developments and appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, Nightline, the McNeil-Lehrer Report and other programs.

Mr. Mroczyk later served as director of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe and, in 1994, went to Warsaw for a year to oversee the U.S. organization's Poland office. He then became a partner in an international telecommunications firm, Zephyr Telecommunications, based in New Jersey.

In 2001, Mr. Mroczyk briefly returned to Poland to attempt to start a new television network. Since then, he had worked as a consultant, primarily with international companies doing business in Poland. He became ill in March while on business and remained in Poland until his death.

His marriage to Ewa Mroczyk ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Alicia Mroczyk of Falls Church; two children from his second marriage, Patricia Mroczyk and Joseph Mroczyk, both of Falls Church; a brother; and three sisters.

-- Matt Schudel

Fernand J. CoulonChef

Fernand J. Coulon, 93, the former executive chef of the Hot Shoppes restaurant chain that once dotted the Washington region, died Jan. 17 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. He had dementia and a heart ailment.

Mr. Coulon was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was the son of a chef. He began cooking at an early age and worked at a country club in Troy, N.Y., and at several New York hotels, including the Waldorf-Astoria, where he met his future wife. During World War II, he taught cooking in the Merchant Marine.

In 1947, Mr. Coulon came to Washington as sous-chef for the Marriott Corp.'s Hot Shoppes. He later became executive chef and helped plan and refine the restaurants' menus.

Among the items he helped create were the Hot Shoppes' creamy chicken noodle soup, blue cheese dressing and the sauce for the Mighty Moe hamburger. For holidays, Mr. Coulon and his staff prepared thousands of boxed turkey dinners for takeout.

While working with Marriott, Mr. Coulon also prepared food for airline meals, company parties and other events. In the late 1970s, he operated the catering service at the Smithsonian castle on the Mall, and he also worked briefly as executive chef at Hogate's restaurant, when it was owned by Marriott. He retired in 1980.

Mr. Coulon lived in Silver Spring for many years and was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. He enjoyed gardening. For the past two years, he resided at the Aspen Wood retirement community in Silver Spring.

Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Frieda Coulon of Silver Spring; three daughters, Claudette Thibodeau of Falls Church, Denise Fitzgerald of Gaithersburg and Cynthia Coulon of Jacksonville, Fla.; a sister; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel

Richard N. BellCemetery Owner

Richard Norr Bell, 88, who for decades owned and operated National Harmony Memorial Park, a cemetery in Landover, died Jan. 18 at Manor Care Fair Oaks nursing home in Fairfax. He had Alzheimer's disease.

As a young man, Mr. Bell was involved in real estate and dry cleaning businesses with his father, Louis.

In the late 1950s, they were contracted by the D.C. government to move the historically black Columbian Harmony Cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair.

According to a 2000 Washington Post article, 37,000 remains were disinterred and moved to what the Bells named National Harmony Memorial Park. Mr. Bell served as president until his family sold the cemetery in the late 1990s.

He was born in Baltimore and completed high school in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended the City College of New York and Benjamin Franklin University in Washington. He served in the Army Air Forces in North Africa and Europe during World War II.

Mr. Bell, a Middleburg resident, traveled widely with his wife. They once stayed in a yurt in Mongolia and took the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia, among other adventures.

A son, Jeremy Bell, died in 1998.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Myfida Williams Bell of Middleburg; two children, David J. Bell of Alexandria and Jennifer Spalding of The Plains; a sister; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

-- Adam Bernstein

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