Richard Joseph Bielski, March 24, 1930 to June 27, 2015 Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Grayling, Michigan.
Following high school graduation he joined the Coast Guard and worked on ore boats on the Great Lakes.
In 1949, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in Albany, Georgia where he met his wife, Anne.
They had three children, Marcella, Lillie Helen and Joel.
In 1960, Richard entered Mercer University as a divinity student. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, he attended Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and received his Master of Divinity while serving as pastor of Crestwood Baptist Church. While serving in Crestwood, he was named a Kentucky Colonel and recognized for his civic involvement including Volunteer Fireman.
In 1970 he returned to Georgia to serve as pastor of Newton Estates Baptist Church, in College Park. While there, he worked with the City of College Park to establish their first anti-drug program and was recognized with a Distinguished Citizen Award for his service to the city.
In 1978 he became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lavonia where he served until retiring in 1995. After retiring he was named Pastor Emeritus and served as interim pastor of several local churches including Royston First Baptist and Bethany Baptist near Hartwell.
He served on many community committees in Lavonia and Franklin County, including City Chaplain of Lavonia.
In 2005 he and Anne were awarded the Margaret Ayers Award for community service. December 22, 2008 was designated “Richard Bielski Day” in Lavonia to recognize his many years of dedicated service to the community.
He was also a charter member of the Land of Spirit.
His hobbies included landscape painting, stamp collecting and woodworking.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne; his daughter, Marcella; son-in-law, Peter; brother, Marvin, two grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews. And his buddy, Midas, the marmalade cat.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Diabetes Association of Georgia in the memory of Richard and Joel Bielski.
Also, if attending his memorial service, 11am Wednesday, July 1 at First Baptist Church of Lavonia, Richard requested that you wear bright colors; no black; no brown; no navy. The brighter the better. Men wearing suits are requested to wear bright ties; but Hawaiian shirts are also welcome. His final request reflects his love of life and its celebration through joyful expression. A visitation will be held at Strickland Funeral Home on Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Lunch will be served at the church following the service.
Strickland Funeral Home – Lavonia Chapel is in charge of the arrangements. On-line condolences may be sent to the family at www.stricklandfh.com.