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Even in Retirement, Anthony “Skip” Minakowski Remains Hard at Work ServingOthers

A man wearing an apron and a baseball cap smiles in a cafeteria.

By Mark Cheshire


Perhaps he didn’t receive the memo regarding retirement, the one highlighting the fact that those who have concluded their professional careers no longer need to attend 8 a.m. meetings, manage others, and take on big assignments. It’s a plausible explanation for the tireless and transformational work he continues to do, but it’s also inaccurate.

Like the roughly four million Americans who retire every year, Anthony “Skip” Minakowski, a certified public accountant, got the message about what his post-career life could look like – lots of relaxation and relatively little responsibility. But he has elected to pursue a different path, devoting himself to serving others rather than to kicking back in leisure.

To call Skip a volunteer is technically correct. But in his case, the term seems insufficient. After all, the 78-year-old logs so many hours caring for others that one wonders where he finds the energy for it all. But there is no wondering about why he does it all.

“I was raised in the Jesuit tradition, and I feel this is a good way to reflect that ethic and be a ‘man for others,’” he said with characteristic modesty and brevity.

Since retiring from one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, Ryland Homes, after running the company’s internal audit department for seven years, Skip has been building an ever-larger portfolio of volunteer work for Catholic Charities and others. Even a partial list of the organizations to which he has given his time and talent is lengthy: Beans and Bread, the Community Assistance Network, the Franciscan Center, Gallagher Services, Our Daily Bread, the R W Gribbin Center, Head Start, and St. Gregory’s Food Pantry.

What is more, Skip leads students from Loyola Blakefield, the Catholic college preparatory school from which he graduated in 1963, on regular volunteer service trips throughout the region. On these days, he meets the young men around 8 a.m. to discuss where they’re headed to serve and why they’re going. And then they head out to a site to give back — and to learn. One of Skip’s most important lessons: The people they are serving are no different than the students. We can all find ourselves in need of a helping hand, no matter who we are or where we’re from.

The impact that Skip is having on Loyola’s students is beyond measure, said Brendan O’Kane, director of Loyola Blakefield’s Ignatian Mission and Identity program, which runs the service initiative.

“He provides young men with an example of what it means to care about a community. You commit your time and attention to what you love,” O’Kane said.

As for why Skip dedicates so much of himself to service, despite being retired?

“Retirement is for relaxation if you believe time is your own. Skip believes his time is God’s,” O’Kane said. “He’s at the point where he could ride off into the sunset and relax. But I think he finds great meaning in his service, and he does it joyfully.

The work ethic and joy were on full display during the daily two-hour lunch service at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in central Baltimore City on a recent Tuesday.

As they do every day, the doors to the lunchroom opened at 10:30 a.m., and the cafeteria was completely full within minutes. Just as quickly as the women and men took their seats, Skip and his fellow waiters were taking their orders. Regular or veggie? he asked each diner, before making his way to the kitchen to pick up the guests’ selections and then delivering them to their table. Skip is obviously a pro at this, routinely carrying three orders at once.

Despite being somewhat shorthanded, the volunteers helped to feed more than 300 people on this day. Skip has gotten to know many of the diners during his years of volunteering. “They’re as friendly as anyone you’d ever want to meet,” he said during his shift.

Erika M. Jones, Catholic Charities’ program director for Our Daily Bread, said volunteers such as Skip are indispensable. Without them, she said, “we wouldn’t be able to operate.”

Skip, of course, encourages others to volunteer to help meet the needs of our community, and he understands why some are somewhat reluctant. “There’s some trepidation, some fear of the unknown,” he observed.

But Skip also knows from first-hand experience that such apprehension soon yields to joy.

“Students often go into a shell when they arrive at a volunteer site,” he said. “But within 10 to 15 minutes, they are warmed up and interacting with everyone. It’s like being with family and friends in a matter of minutes.”

On the rare occasions when he’s not volunteering, Skip enjoys cycling on the Northern Central Railroad Trail (aiming for 1,250 miles annually) and doing a little cooking. He and his wife of 51 years, Fran, live in Towson. Their son, Adam, also a Loyola alumnus, is assistant archivist at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Call to Action: Interested in joining Skip and volunteering for those in need? Here are the requirements to serve at Our Daily Bread, according to Erika Jones, the program director: “Heart, a desire to help, and teamwork.” It should also be noted: Volunteers are not required to serve as often as Skip.

To review our volunteer opportunities, click here.