Caldwell Man Leads By Example

Each month, Brenda Sims bring you fascinating stories about people from our community. This story is a first for Names and Faces.

The story she tells today is about a man who calls Caldwell home, making today's Names and Faces, the first of many from outside of Bryan/College Station. He's also the best friend that community has.

BERNARD...
"Everything that has happened has been good I really don't want the credit for it because I was just a part of the cog, part of the cog on the wheel, one of the little cogs that made it happen." says Bernard Rychlik.

When I first met Bernard, I was impressed with his love of life and love for his community and now weeks later as his story comes together, I've discovered he's the happiest when he's working for others, no matter what the conditions are.

Last summer Bernard, like his fellow friends and citizens, was dealing with the after effects of Hurricane Ike. Like many of the surrounding rural communities, his beloved Caldwell and Burleson County were without electricity. Being the town's mayor, Bernard did what came naturally, he reminded the people he was their friend and went to work for them.

"When Hurricane Ike came, Bernard was the kind of steady leader that you need in place when something like that comes along, that can remain calm under fire and still have the awareness to be able to get the job done. Without his leadership and efforts, I'm not sure that we would have got the power back on as quick as we did," says Burleson County Judge Mike Sutherland.

Since Bernard is a leader who's present during the hard times, you can bet he's there to share the good times too. One of the area's largest festivals is held in Caldwell and besides helping to plan it; he also educates us on what it is.

"It's not a kolache festival...it's a kolache festival," explains Rychlik, noting the difference between pronunciations.

The Kolache Festival is very important to Bernard because it defines who he is and for him, it's a way to honor his past while preserving his heritage.

"Bernard's the best thing that we got going as far as official ambassador, not only for Caldwell, but for Burleson County," says Judge Sutherland.

Why do want to be involved in so many things?

"It's just something to do. It's no fun to be retired," says Rychlik.

That's right...Bernard isn't slowing down anytime soon. He's been Caldwell's mayor for 18 years and whether he's accepting awards or giving his time to announce high school football games; his generosity has earned him a place in the hearts of many.

"People gravitate to people like Bernard because I think it's trust, I think it's that you know that what ever you need, he will help you wit it, what ever the problem is, he will work on it," says Tom Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

"When you get ready to leave this earth, the only things you take with you are those you gave away, so I hope I give away," says Rychlik.


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