Andy Nowicki Was 90
April 29, 2014|By CHRISTOPHER HOFFMAN, Special to the Courant, The Hartford Courant
NEWINGTON – World War II veteran Andy Nowicki, who was at the center of a conflict over the Newington Housing Authority’s no smoking policy, has died. He was 90.
The housing authority tried last year to evict Nowicki for smoking. After several weeks of controversy, Nowicki’s lawyer, state Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, negotiated a settlement allowing Nowicki and his wife to stay in their home of 20 years. Nowicki, who had trouble walking due to war wounds and old age, agreed to smoke at least 10 feet from his building, in compliance with the authority’s no smoking policy.
An Old Saybrook contractor later donated labor and materials to build a 10-foot long awning so Nowicki had a place to light up in bad weather.
But the happy ending didn’t last. Early this year, the housing authority, which is independent of the town of Newington, said an employee saw Nowicki smoking in his breezeway at least three times in violation of the agreement, and threatened again to evict him and his wife, Leona.
Rather than have his client testify in court, Doyle said, he agreed to have Nowicki and his 90-year-old wife, who has advanced dementia, leave the Cedar Village complex by July 31.
“I didn’t want more stress,” said Doyle, who represented Nowicki at no charge. “I just thought it wasn’t worth it at this point.”
When Nowicki fell ill earlier this month, his relatives were in the midst of a search to find an affordable replacement for his $714-a-month apartment.
Last Friday, Nowicki died after suffering a stroke, his daughter said.
Janet Nowicki denied her father violated the agreement, and said housing authority officials “tormented” her father.
“They just did things to put undue stress on someone who wasn’t healthy, who was elderly,” Janet Nowicki said. “It’s called bullying.”
Doyle said the authority’s actions showed “a lack of common sense and common decency.”
Housing Authority Executive Director Melinda Harvey defended the authority Tuesday, saying Nowicki had been caught smoking in violation of the settlement and therefore had to vacate his apartment.
“He continued to not comply,” Harvey said. “So we contacted Paul [Doyle] and met with him.”
She also expressed regret at Nowicki’s death. “He was part of our community,” she said. “Regardless of what was going on, our community is in mourning.”