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'Sam' Boyer, Sun News By 'Sam' Boyer, Sun News Brunswick Sun
on November 16, 2010 at 10:18 AM

One of a series on the early days and development of Brunswick and Brunswick Township, celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year.

by ‘Sam’ Boyer


Walt and Mary Bukszar arrived at their new house on St. James Drive on Dec. 15, 1957. It was an affordable place to buy a home.

“We had five children by that time and no one wanted to rent to families like ours,” he said. “We had two choices — Eaton Township or Brunswick, and a few people I knew lived here. We paid $500 down and the house cost $11,895. Our house payment was $80 a month.”

Walt grew up in the Buckeye Road neighborhood of Cleveland. He dropped out of high school his senior year to work for a crew that did building, painting and glazing of greenhouses. On a trip to Mentor he went to a football game and, “Saw this little girl in front of the band twirling a baton.” He asked her for a date and it was love. They married after the huge snowstorm of 1950 caused them to be apart. Lent was coming up and back then, he said, no one got married during Lent. He said he told her, “That’s it, let’s get married.” They married in 1951.

Walt eventually went back to finish high school and his older children saw him graduate. He was working as an insurance salesman on the east side of Cleveland when they moved here. He later worked in newspaper circulation, retail sales and even worked for a year as a sewer inspector.

When the influx of new people, like the Bukszars, began arriving in Brunswick in the 1950s, there were few places to eat out — which, of course, was reserved for special occasions.

In Brunswick at the time, there was the Majorette – a drive-in and eat-in restaurant that specialized in burgers (10 cents for members of the Brunswick Youth Club) and Lee’s Pizza and Chicken, a popular place for dates and special family occasions. Mind you, there was no delivery service back in those days.

Bukszar was a regular at Lee’s, where a lot of men would gather to talk politics over a cup of coffee before or after work. Lee hired a number of people to manage the restaurant so he could get some time away. “One day he asked me to take over as manager,” Bukszar said.

Then Lee, a very heavy man, probably approaching 400 pounds, began to experience health problems. “He suggested I buy the restaurant, but I didn’t have the money to do that. We worked out an arrangement for me to buy the restaurant and he moved to Florida. And here we are.” (Lee died at age 62 in 1972).

Lee lived upstairs and the family (now with six children) moved there, working from 3 or 4 a.m. to start making doughnuts until late at night at what became Walt’s Restaurant. Mary and the children would help when they could. “We made everything from scratch, from pizza dough to soup,” he said.

The restaurant at first included a full-service sit-down restaurant in the entire first floor of the building (one of the oldest buildings in Brunswick, by the way), and recently moved to the rear of the building. His youngest daughter, Mary Louise, took over the front as a flower shop but has since closed it, so the front remains empty for now.

Almost all of their children live nearby. They are Cathy, Tom, Joseph, Richard, Jean Marie and Mary Louise. He now has 15 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and three more on the way. Mary died in 2009.

Bukszar’s “hobby” in those early days used to be attending civic meetings. He is past president of the Brunswick Democrat Club and was chairman of the city’s national award-winning clean-up, fix-up campaigns during Mayor Alwin Wolff’s tenure. He was also a longtime member of the zoning board of appeals and served as its chairman for many years.

Talking politics has always been a passion and remains so. He is quick to say he liked the first city manager, Skip Trimble, because he was such a good money manager. He’s not so keen on the current financial situation.

Bukszar is also a past president of the Knights of Columbus and a past member of the Holy Name Society. While the children were young, the family was involved in little league, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and sports. Tom and Richard were on the track team and Joe was a wrestler.

Now, he has a routine that includes breakfast at about 10 a.m. at the Brunswick Family Restaurant to which he usually bikes. Then he bicycles 10 miles before heading home. He opens the restaurant at 4 p.m. with helper Charlotte Taylor. He also closes during the winter, heading to warmer climates.

A 1977 story in this newspaper notes “The 10-cent cup of coffee is alive and well and bringing in customers to Walt’s Restaurant. The vocal and sometimes controversial owner of the restaurant” was featured in a column called “Familiar Faces.”

Bukszar has a lot of great memories about his early days here — and the fledgling city he still loves to call home. Best of all, he’s willing to share — especially with his many loyal customers.

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Walt Bukszar, left, not only accepted an award from then Governor James Rhodes for heading the city's clean-up, fix-up campaign, but also won a national award for the effort in the 1960s.

Eatery operator still has appetite for city affairs: Brunswick at 50