WILKES-BARRE — The popular owner of a deli and catering business in the city’s Parsons section is continuing on the slow road to recovery after suffering a series of near-fatal strokes.
Bernie Suchoski, owner of Gardner Avenue Deli and Catering, was given a minimal chance to live after he was airlifted to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville after being stricken ill the day after Thanksgiving. Then, following one emergency surgery, he suffered a second stroke that forced doctors to remove part of his skull to reduce the pressure on his brain. Those same doctors gave him a five percent chance to live.
“Eleven days later, he started moving around a lot. They kept telling us it was involuntarily,” Suchoski’s sister, Eileen Sobocinski, recalled. “He started pulling the tubes out and opening his eyes. No one could believe it. He came out of life support on his own.”
Suchoski, 52, has been undergoing intense rehabilitation since being moved to the John Heinz Rehab Center in Wilkes-Barre Township. His right side remains paralyzed, but he’s been able to move around with his wheelchair and feed himself. He’s regaining the ability to talk.
Suchoski and Sobocinski are the legal guardians of their mentally challenged, non-verbal sister, who lived with Suchoski on East Main Street. Despite her disability, the sister was able to call relatives to alert them something was wrong when Suchoski suffered the stroke on Nov. 25.
Sobocinski has since assumed emergency guardianship for Suchoski, who isn’t married and doesn’t have children.
The family tried to keep his business open, but it was just too difficult. They did keep all his catering commitments for the Christmas season. They still hope to reopen the business Suchoski has operated by himself since 1995 after giving up a career as a mechanic.
“It was in his blood,” Sobocinski said. “He loved to cook.”
Suchoski’s family and friends are hosting a benefit this Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rodanos on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre to raise money to pay for his medical bills. The bill for the airlift alone was $10,000. Tickets to attend the benefit are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The event is titled, “Bernie’s Bash.”
“I feel like I lost my brother on that day he had the stoke. But this new Bernie is alive and I’m looking to get to know him,” Sobocinski said. “He is becoming more alert every day. I’m starting to see a glimpse of my brother coming back.”
HOW TO HELP
A GoFundMe page has been created to help with medical bills for stroke victim Bernie Suchoski, owner of Gardner Avenue Deli and Catering in Wilkes-Barre: www.gofundme.com/bring-bernie-home?r=13906
A benefit will be held Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rodanos on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.