Poles in San Diego
History as well as social and religious life of the community
by Pawel Pia

Accomplishments of Polish Emigrants in San Diego
The academic community of San Diego was enriched by the late Professor Emeritus Jozef Patyk, and others, like the former Professor of the University of California in San Diego, Dr. Jerzy Lewak; the Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department at San Diego State University professor Jerzy Supernak; professor Tessa Weedon and the pianist and subtle interpreter of Chopin's music, the Chairman of the Music Department at Palomar College professor Peter Gach.
Polish scientists who achieved high status in the fields of advanced biochemistry and computer science are: Jan Anzelm, Ph.D., Krzysztof Appelt, Ph.D., the married teams of Teresa and Jerzy Barankiewicz, both Ph.Ds., and Dariusz and Ewa Wroblewski, both Ph.Ds.

In the medical field work Polish doctors: Joanna Wozniak, Andrzej Maciejewski, Henryk Kankowski, Stanley Rys, Andrzej Krotowski, Halina Szmidt and last but not least, Stanislaw Raczek, Ph.D., a psychiatrist at the US Navy Hospital and founder of the Society of Polish Psychiatrists.

Law and justice have their advocate in the person of Andrzej Zmurkiewicz, Attorney-at-Law, who has earned Polonia's gratitude for generously giving his time and talent to the Polish non-profit organizations.

The undisputed first among the performing artists is the willowy prima ballerina of the California Ballet Company, Denise Dabrowski. The aquarellist Stanislaw Sowinski has earned his reputation creating images of enchanting beauty. A part-time resident was the internationally acclaimed painter and portraitist Leszek Sobocki. Prof. Andrzej Lojszczyk's skill as a restorer of art preserved many of California's cultural treasures, including California's oldest church, the Mission Basilica of San Diego de Alcala, after whom the city was named.

The works of architect Clarence "PAT" Paderewski dominate San Diego's sky-line. Among his creations are the facade of the El Cortez building; the West Terminal at Lindbergh Field, and many schools and churches, including the Church of our Lady of Confidence and the Palomar College buildings. His late wife Maxine is missed by all who came to appreciate her organizational skill, kindness and uncommon common sense. Pat's powerful influence in California reflects his involvement in many worthwhile causes. His reputation rests on his own accomplishments.

The internationally renowned economist Jan Pfeiffer, an authority on world trade, lives in the northern part of San Diego County.

In the sport world Kazimierz Deyna's name will always be remembered. He lifted the San Diego Sockers out of obscurity.

Truly impressive is the military list of Poles in San Diego.
The highest ranking among them is three-star Lt. General of the U.S. Marine Corps, Leo Dulacki (Ret.), who served previously as military attache in the American Embassy in Moscow. The list of his decorations covers a full typed page!
Colonel Robert Modrzejewski, U.S. Marine Corps, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for holding a position on the battlefield in Vietnam. Captain Carl A. Wesolowski, USN, served before his retirement as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Hospital in San Diego. Commander Stephen Drabek, USN (Ret.) brings to any action his organizational talents and Naval discipline.
San Diego was the home of the late Colonel of the Polish Air Force Stanislaw Brejnak, one of the highly decorated heros of the Battle of Britain. His bombs helped to sink the German battleships Bismarck and Gneisenau.
The very much alive Captain of Cavalry Tomasz Kepinski, formerly of the prestigious regiment of the Guards, the Belweder Light Cavalry, has received for his heroic action in the Warsaw Uprising (1944) the highest Polish decoration for military valor, the Virtuti Military Cross. Other Home Army (AK) veterans are Zdzislaw Jarkiewicz and Czeslaw Stankiewicz.
The highly decorated Captain of the Royal Air Force Stanislaw Jedlinski also makes his home in San Diego County.
San Diego was also the last home of the late Romuald Dowbor, who while serving under General S. W. Maczek, led his "Bloody Shirts" tank units to liberate Belgium from the Germans during World War II. This highly decorated soldier will be remembered as the cavalry man who made the transition from his childhood dream of being a hussar to commanding the modern, deadly effective tank units. It was not by accident that the First Armored Division chose for its emblem the ancient Hussar's eagle wing.
Jan Jachimowicz, author of a book based on his experiences in Siberia is a veteran of the Polish Armed Forces. So is his brother Miroslaw Jachimowicz, as well as Stanislaw Lenyk, Lt. S. Howard, Steve Skotak, Ted Bala, Ferdynand Chase, Stanislaw Dlugosz, Jan Ostrowski, Tomasz Ostrowski, Irena Kretowicz, Walter Kotfila, Zygmunt Kucharczyk, Jan Macioszek, Raymond Matela, Jerzy Bronicki.
The late Major Antoni Kretowicz, his brother, ensign Franiszek Kretowicz, ensign Jozef Kosciolek, corporal Zofia Sas-Topolnicka, ensign Seweryn Gajewski, Stefan Goscicki, a veteran of the war of 1918-20, and Barbara Nowak, member of A.K.
The late Pani Helena Mickaniewska should be remembered as the quintessential Polish matron. During the Bolshevik revolution she is known to have saved 40 railroad cars full of Polish orphans, who would have perished in Russia were it not for her effort. She died, beloved by all, at the age of 94.

There are hundreds of other brave Polish soldiers.
This list of names would not be complete without mention of Captain Dr. James Baker, US Army. He is a Pole by affinity rather than by descent. This valiant Scot proudly wears the wings of a Polish paratrooper, the Golden Cross of Merit, and the Cross of Freedom and Independence, bestowed on him by the Polish Government in Exile in London. His admiration for the Polish Armed forces can be set as an example to all those lukewarm descendants of Piast, who take for granted the privilege and the honor of being Polish.

From: Polish Americans in California, vol. II. National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs and Polish American Historical Association. California 1995