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5 grudnia 2011 roku w Buffalo odszedł Edward Wiater – nauczyciel-wolontariusz Kursu Pomost International w Rzeszowie

„Jego życie miało sens, bo całe było dla innych” 

Z głębokim żalem zawiadamiamy, że 5 grudnia 2011 roku w Buffalo (6 grudnia naszego czasu) odszedł Edward Wiater – Nauczyciel-wolontariusz w 15 edycjach Kursu Języka Angielskiego Pomost International w Rzeszowie.

Ed Wiater, mimo iż urodził się w Stanach Zjednoczonych, tak bardzo kochał Polskę. Wiedzą o tym wszyscy ci, którzy mieli okazję poznać tego wielkiego człowieka podczas Kursu Pomost w Rzeszowie.
O tym jak bardzo kochał młodzież i jak młodzież go kochała, niech świadczą niekończące się owacje na stojąco, którymi podczas uroczystości na zakończenie Kursu Pomost 2010 uczestnicy spontanicznie dziękowali swojemu wspaniałemu nauczycielowi i przyjacielowi. Nikt nie chciał wierzyć wtedy jego słowom, że przyjechał na Kurs Pomost już po raz ostatni. Niestety nie spełniło się jego wielkie marzenie, aby spędzić kiedyś Święta Bożego Narodzenia w Polsce.

Poniżej zamieszczam artykuły o Edwardzie, które ukazały się w ostatnich dniach w prasie w Buffalo (Tonawanda News, Buffalo News) oraz wspomnienie o nim jego córki Kathleen Wiater.

Do wszystkich osób, które znały Eda, zwracam się z propozycją przesłania na mój adres (epiecuch@erzeszow.pl) wspomnień, jakie pozostały Wam w pamięci ze spotkań z tym wspaniałym człowiekiem. Mogą to być zarówno opowiadania o znajomości z nim i o jego opowieściach, jak i krótkie wspomnienia, które utkwiły w Waszej pamięci, a także zdjęcia. Sądzę, że takich wspomnień będzie wiele i że ułożymy z nich na zbliżający się Pomost piękną książkę pamięci naszego Drogiego Przyjaciela. Część z nich zostanie zamieszczona również przy informacji internetowej o Kursie Pomost.

Elżbieta Piecuch
Wydział Promocji i Współpracy Międzynarodowej
Urząd Miasta Rzeszowa
 

12 grudnia 2011 roku o godzinie 9.30 miejscowego czasu w Buffalo odbył się pogrzeb Eda Wiatra.
Przed pogrzebem otrzymaliśmy widomość od córki Pana Eda, Pani Kathleen Wiater, iż na ostatnią drogę pod swoim garniturem i koszulą ma ubraną koszulkę Pomostu z napisem na niej "Rzeszów, partnerskie miasto Buffalo", przez co będzie spoczywał na wieki otulony przyjaźnią naszych miast i naszych krajów…

(..) “I thought you would like to know that beneath his suit and dress shirt and tie Dad is wearing a Pomost t-shirt with 'Rzeszow, Buffalo's Sister City' written on it. He will rest for all eternity wrapped in the friendship between our cities and our countries.”
Kathleen Wiater, Buffalo, 12 grudnia 2011. 

Elżbieta Piecuch
Wydział Promocji i Współpracy Międzynarodowej
Urząd Miasta Rzeszowa


Tonawanda News

December 7, 2011

Edward S. Wiater

The Tonawanda News

WILLIAMSVILLE — Edward S. Wiater, 85, of Williamsville, life-long journalist and former mayor of North Tonawanda, standout athlete and World War II combat veteran, died December 5, 2011 in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.

Born in Dunkirk, New York, on April 4, 1926, Wiater's family moved to North Tonawanda soon after and lived in the old Third Ward, home of the city's Polonia. Wiater attended Our Lady of Czestochowa (OLC) school and played on OLC's championship basketball and baseball teams in the Monsignor Martin Catholic League. He graduated from North Tonawanda High School in 1944, earned varsity letters in track and basketball and captained the champion basketball team during the 1943-44 season.

Wiater was drafted into the Army following graduation, took basic armored cavalry training at Ft. Riley, Kansas and was assigned to the 94th cavalry unit, 14th armored division in the 7th army, in France. He served as the .50 caliber machine gunner in a Jeep on reconnaissance missions.

After sustaining injuries in a German ambush, Wiater spent a month in a hospital in Rheims, France. He rejoined his unit in Germany which was at Bad Reichenhall when war in Europe ceased. He received an honorable discharge with two battle stars in the European Theater of Operations.

When hostilities broke out in Korea Wiater was enrolled at Syracuse University, but enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves and was stationed in Niagara Falls until his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1954.

The Cleveland Indians major league baseball team offered Wiater a contract to play for its Class AA team in Ohio after witnessing him play baseball for Syracuse. He declined the offer, however, because it would have interfered with his studies, and graduated from Syracuse University in 1951 with a B.S. in public relations.

After college, Wiater worked in public relations at the Rome Air Development Center and General Electric. He began his journalistic career at the Tonawanda News, where he worked for three years, then wrote for a year at the Niagara Falls Gazette before starting a 25-year career as a reporter and editor at the Buffalo Courier-Express, including a stint as the Courier's popular "Inquiring Reporter". After the Courier folded, Wiater landed the position of news editor at the Daily News of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. He worked there for nine years before retiring and returning to Western New York. In retirement he wrote a weekly column for the Am-Pol Eagle, the newspaper serving Buffalo's Polonia.

It was during his time at the Courier-Express that Wiater threw his hat into the political ring--an unprecedented move locally, for it was a journalistic axiom that journalists stay free of active political associations. The newspaper made an exception for Wiater and moved him to a copydesk position so that he could serve the city he grew up in and loved. Wiater was prompted to run when his daughter challenged him to do something about the pollution emanating from local paper and chemical companies about which he concerned, recounting his own words to his children: "Don't complain if you are not going to take action to solve a problem."

As a two-term mayor of North Tonawanda from 1971 to 1975, he led the Lumber City to unprecedented cultural growth and significant economic improvements. Wiater spearheaded projects that resulted in a new library, an arts center, upgraded fire and police departments, a new sewage treatment plant, as well as improvements in the department of public works. The city parks were expanded to include what is now known as Klimek's Fisherman's Park on the Niagara River and an expanded, cleaned-up Riverside Park. He also pushed through the city's first 18-hole golf course, which he named Deerwood. Wiater also supported the apartment project that now stands on the site of the former Allan Herschell Company, the biggest merry-go-round maker in America, and convinced the developer to name it Carousel Park.

Wiater refused to allow unbridled subdivision growth in the city. He implemented regulations that included sewer and water tap-in fees, ending the practice of city taxpayers shouldering the costs instead of developers. He also instituted a system of internal controls to provide tight spending and reporting systems. As a result, monies collected by City Hall departments were deposited into the bank at the end of each day, where they garnered interest immediately.

On taking office, Wiater learned the state was about to levy $50,000 fines against the city for polluting the Niagara River with sewage discharges. Upon discovering that new sewage treatment plans made years earlier had never been implemented after being submitted to the engineering firm contracted for the work, he sought and gained Common Council support to name a new engineering firm to proceed with the project.

Wiater took great pride in seeing these initiatives come to fruition during a period of significant tax rate hikes in surrounding communities. Despite these major projects, the tax rate in North Tonawanda was lower when Wiater left office than it was when he entered, and in this he took the greatest satisfaction.

"A city can experience growth and a stable tax rate if the leaders pay attention to the needs of their community and not their personal desires which usually are dove-tailed with reelection and satisfying cronies with jobs," Wiater would say. He also took pride in the fact that he never profited from his position, living according to his family's motto, "Live so that they speak with pride about you while you are alive and not just when you're dead."

When the city went from seven wards with seven councilmen to five wards with five councilmen, Wiater approved raises for the five councilmen but turned down a raise for himself. His reasoning was that the five councilmen would need to do the work of seven but that the mayor was still the head of a city with the same boundaries.

Wiater thought it important to keep in touch with other mayors and the progress of other municipalities, and his attendance at a crucial national mayors' conference resulted in passage of a federal bill which brought more than $2 million to North Tonawanda.
Upon retirement, Wiater traveled through Brazil's Amazon and into Peru, Argentina and Paraguay. He then toured Poland and enlisted for a summer session at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow to study the development of democracy in Poland after the Solidarity union movement overthrew four decades of Russian communism. A life-long believer in the power of the young to change the world, Wiater volunteered through Pomost International, and for 17 summers he taught conversational English and led student discussions on current events in Rzeszow, Buffalo's Sister City in Poland.

Wiater also stayed current on issues important to Polish-Americans. Having had an aunt murdered at the Majdanek death camp for hiding a Jewish neighbor's children, and an uncle murdered by a Nazi firing squad, Wiater was outspoken and relentless in his criticism of inaccurate descriptions of concentration camps imposed on Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II and determined to keep alive the memory of the courage that Poles demonstrated throughout the war. He took great pride in his Polish roots, studying Polish history, maintaining his fluency in the Polish language and bringing Polish students to the United States periodically to observe American life.

Wiater was a member of the Chopin Singing Society, the Buffalo Polish Arts Club, Pomost International, Our Lady of Czestochowa Holy Name Society, the now-defunct OLC men's choir, Stephen Sikora American Legion Post of North Tonawanda, the Polish Veterans units in Buffalo, the Sierra Club and Amnesty International. In 2005, Wiater was honored at the Polish Arts Club's Biesiada banquet for his efforts on behalf of the Polish-American community. He also established the Marilyn Horne Fan Club as a tribute to his favorite opera singer and kept up his own contribution to art through his oil and watercolor painting. In his younger years, he served as a Little League umpire. In his later years, he was an anti-war activist.

Wiater was the only child of Mary Ann Kowal Wiater and Lawrence Wiater, both deceased. He married Joan M. Fitzgerald, R.N., of Utica. He is survived by daughters Kathleen, Mary Ann (Philip O'Neill) and Theresa (James Jakel) and son, Dr. Lawrence of San Mateo, CA, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Visiting hours are on Sunday, December 11th from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the Colucci Funeral Home, 652 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, NY. Flowers are gratefully declined. Memorial gifts may be made to Pomost International c/o the Am-Pol Eagle, 3620 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga, NY 14215. A Mass of Christian Burial will be said Monday, December 12th at 9:30 AM, Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, 626 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda.

Visit www.tonawanda-news.com/obituaries for online guest register.


Buffalo News, 8 grudnia 2011.

Edward S. Wiater, N. Tonawanda mayor, journalist

December 8, 2011, 6:48 AM

April 4, 1926—Dec. 5, 2011

Edward S. Wiater of Amherst, a former North Tonawanda mayor and lifelong journalist, died Monday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. He was 85.

Born in Dunkirk, Mr. Wiater moved to North Tonawanda with his family when he was a child. After graduating in 1944 from North Tonawanda High School, where he was a standout athlete, he was drafted into the Army to serve in World War II.

Mr. Wiater was assigned to the 7th Army’s 94th Cavalry unit in France, where he was a machine gunner on reconnaissance missions. During the Korean War, he enlisted in the Navy Reserve, stationed in Niagara Falls.

He was a 1951 graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations. His journalism career began at the Tonawanda News and continued at the Niagara Falls Gazette before a 25- year stint with the Buffalo Courier- Express, where he was a reporter and editor.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wiater served two terms as North Tonawanda’s mayor during the 1970s. During his tenure, a new public library was built on Meadow Drive, and Deerwood Golf Course was developed.

After the Courier ceased publication, Mr. Wiater worked nine years as news editor at the Daily News of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, then returned to this area in retirement.

He wrote a weekly column for the Am-Pol Eagle and studied and traveled in Poland. Volunteering through Pomost International, he taught conversational English for 17 summers in Rzeszow, Buffalo’s sister city.

Mr. Wiater was active in other Polish organizations, including the Chopin Singing Society, and was a member of Stephen Sikora Post 1322, American Legion, in North Tonawanda. In 2005, he was honored at the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo’s Biesiada banquet for his efforts on behalf of the Polish-American community.

While living in St. Thomas, Mr. Wiater established the Marilyn Horne Fan Club as a tribute to his favorite opera singer, with whom he corresponded and whom he met on several occasions.

Survivors include three daughters, Mary Ann O’Neill, Theresa Jakel and Kathleen; and a son, Dr. Lawrence.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a. m. Monday in Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church, 626 Oliver St., North Tonawanda


Dad’s Eulogy, 12.12.2011

A few years ago I bought my father for Christmas a journal entitled, “Dad, share your life with me….” The idea was that one’s father could answer, over the course of a year, the simple questions posed on each day that were intended to prompt stories so that children could get to know their fathers better. The questions were along the lines of “What was your favorite meal as a child?” and “What was the biggest problem you had in grade school?”
Given that Dad was a writer, I thought he would enjoy this gift and at the end of a year could return to me a book filled with his memories of things that maybe I didn’t yet know about him.
The next week my dad showed up at my house with a completed journal in hand.
“Dad,” I said, “you were supposed to reflect on one question a day and fill in the journal over the coming year.”
“I’ve already reflected on everything,” he said, “Why wait until next year?”
This story pretty much sums up my dad’s attitude toward life: why wait, indeed? Dad never waited for life to happen—he created his life, always looking for the next idea, the next story, the next adventure, the next interesting person to talk to.
One of his favorite sayings came from an old song popular in Polonia during the 1960s. “Jedzie boat!” he’d yell. It was a half Polish, half English refrain that he used to mean, “Move it, kids—come on, let’s go!”
Dad was, I think, the ultimate “Let’s go!” guy.
And “go” he did. As a reporter, he was relentless in pursuing the next story; as a traveler he roamed places that most interested him: America’s national parks and its best cities; South America; the Caribbean and, of course, Poland, the birthplace of his parents and a country in which he felt quite at home.
Intellectually, he roamed as well, especially following closely the American political scene and the unfolding democracy in a Poland freed from the shackles of communism. He was endlessly curious about the things that mattered most—the ideas and activity that shape people’s lives and their worlds.
All of this has led me over the years to conclude that my father lived life better than any person I know. And I often wondered what influenced him to be the kind of person he was.
As it turned out, I learned a lot from that little journal I gave him. Dad was excited for me to read it so that we could discuss what he had written. I called him when I had finished, and he bounced a question to me: “There were two themes in my childhood—could you tell what they were?”
I thought for a minute. “I think so,” I answered: poverty and baseball.”
“Right!” he said. He was delighted that I picked up on his themes; they were powerful influencers in my dad’s life, and they intersected at one point in a profound way.
As a member of what Tom Brokaw calls “the greatest generation” my father was raised during the Great Depression. His parents, like so many Americans during this time, were poor and struggled to make ends meet. His father was fortunate to have a job, but he drilled into my father that education was the ticket to a better life. “Get that paper!” he would say, meaning, “Get that diploma!”
Dad did well in school, and I know it is clear to many of you that Dad carried his father’s beliefs about education into his own life by teaching English and maintaining a life-long interest in the academic pursuits of the young. What you may not know is that while my dad was hearing these messages about education as a child, he was also developing a passion that would give him great joy throughout his life: baseball. And he had a gift for playing the game.
Dad was very humble about the extraordinary athleticism with which he was endowed. I remember as a teenager reading the newspaper one night and seeing a reporter’s interview with a revered high school coach who was retiring after more than four decades.
“Who was the most talented athlete ever to come through North Tonawanda High School?” the reporter asked. The coach replied with two names—and my father’s was one of them. Until that time I had no idea my dad was that athletically talented.
Much later in life—I think it was when my father was in his late 70s--we arrived early for an event at my sister’s, and we were locked out of the house. To kill time, I asked Dad to play catch with me with a baseball I found in my sister’s unlocked garage. Dad walked across the lawn and threw the ball to me. What I saw amazed me, because given the angle of the sun I couldn’t really see my father’s features, his white hair or his wrinkled skin. All I could see was the silhouette of a natural athlete—ageless in the evening shadows--and I was stunned at the grace, the fluidity, and the skill I witnessed as my father threw me a soft pitch.
“This is how Dad looked when he was young;” I thought, “this is why people thought he was so talented.“ It was a moment I will never forget.
I told you that baseball and poverty intersected in my dad’s life, and so here is the very interesting conflict that life presented him after World War II: while studying at Syracuse University my dad had a standout year playing baseball. The Cleveland Indians scout saw him, and he offered Dad a contract to play for Cleveland’s Class AA team in Ohio.
Dad had a difficult choice to make: did he follow his love of baseball into a trajectory for the major leagues, knowing that if he left the university he might not return? Or did he forgo the lure of baseball and pursue the university diploma his father had primed him for all his life?
Dad chose education. As much as he loved baseball, he knew that a degree was the better choice for the long-run, that it would not only stave off poverty but make possible the “better life” his immigrant father, in his wisdom, knew was attainable. It was a remarkably mature choice for a young man.
There is one other story about the poverty my dad’s family endured that shaped Dad’s values. I will tell this story in his words, because he left it as a note to us, along with instructions about his funeral.
“Hi kids,” the note starts.
“There is one more important story about my mother and father that you should know about. During the Depression, my dad worked only two, three, maybe four days in the week. This was a work week many in America knew—that is, those that had a job. And they worked for extremely low wages.
“Neighborhood storeowners couldn’t see a family starve or die from lack of heat, so they would take whatever a family could pay and put the rest of the bill in a file marked “Owes”.
“Mom and Dad patronized a grocer on First Avenue named Mr. Garas, but when the war ended, Mr. Garas retired and moved to Buffalo. He never asked for the $90 Mom and Dad owed. That $90 was a lot of money for them as they tried to keep from losing their home.
“I came back from the war and Mom said I must find out where the Garas family lived in Buffalo, and after some searching I found their address.
“’Take me to them,’” my mom said.
“I got somebody who had a car and he drove us to Buffalo. Mom knocked on the door and a surprised Mr. Garas recognized his former customer.
“Mom said, ‘I owe you $90,’”and she handed him the money.
The rest of the note from my dad reminds us that his parents “left this earth not owing anyone a penny.” “I am doing the same,” he declared.
While Dad was determined for us to know upon his death that he didn’t owe anyone, my thoughts have been focused on how much WE owe HIM.
As mayor of North Tonawanda, Dad was responsible for a new library, a senior citizens apartment complex, an arts center and a golf course that still generates income for the city. He upgraded the fire and police departments, built a new sewage treatment plant, and made improvements in the department of public works. The city parks were expanded to include what is now known as Klimek’s Fisherman's Park on the Niagara River and Riverside Park was cleaned up and expanded. Dad also instituted a system of internal controls to provide tight spending and reporting systems. Despite these major projects, the tax rate in North Tonawanda was lower when Dad left office than it was when he entered, and in this he took the greatest satisfaction.
Dad seems nearly a legend in the Pomost International program. The city of Rzeszow, Buffalo’s Sister City, has placed his death notice on its home page, and its mayor described my father as “an outstanding man, a great Pole and patriot who never forgot his family roots .“ A Polish senator and member of the European Union Parliament wrote as well. Many of the hundreds of students dad taught have written too. One student said, “I met Ed in Poland during English classes. He was the kind of person you just can’t forget. Full of passion, with an incredible sense of humor and very good contact with young people -- he was always surrounded by them. He was an undeniably irreplaceable person.”
His contributions to Western New York’s Polonia were significant as well. Dad promoted and attended as many of Polonia’s programs and activities as he could, and he supported up-and-coming young people with Polish backgrounds wherever possible. And he was relentless in defending the dignity and reputation of Poles and Polish Americans.
As someone said: “Ed was a very special man, and I admired him so much.....few people have stood up for the integrity of the Polish people as he did. Plus, Ed was such a delightful and engaging free spirit...he will truly be missed.”

A history professor who had never met dad but who read his obituary through a friend emailed me, “I’m over-awed. He was an extraordinary individual, and a real Renaissance man. If I ended up doing a twentieth of what he did I’d feel fulfilled, but it’s not likely.”
The former Associated Press Bureau Chief of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had this to say: “The thing I remember most about Ed was his enthusiasm. About everything, from finally meeting the opera star Marilyn Horne to hang-gliding in Brazil, to giving instructions to a Puerto Rican waiter on the proper balance of vermouth and gin in a Manhattan. Everything thrilled him….And he was a Democrat, through and through.”
As I wrote this eulogy, I struggled with the many stories I could tell about my dad; the problem wasn’t what to say, but what to leave out. And as I weighed the options, I reflected on the essence of my father was. Was there one quality that made him stand apart from other people?
After considering his life decisions and actions, I concluded that my father understood democracy better than anyone I’ve ever met. He understood freedom, and as a combat veteran, he understood the price of it. And almost more important, he understood his role in a democracy, and I believe that it is this quality that made him unique. Dad acted on his responsibility by writing about issues that were important. He spoke out and challenged others to speak out and to act. He was not interested in making friends when he grabbed onto an issue, and if he antagonized some people, he didn’t care.
Besides his weekly column in the Am-Pol Eagle, Dad wrote letters to individuals from every walk of life. In recent years our conversations went like this when I called him: “Hi Dad,” I’d say, “How are you? “I was better 30 years ago!” he’d reply. I’d always laugh, and then ask him what he was doing.
“I’m writing a letter to Bill Clinton,” he’d say. On another day it might be Lech Walesa, or George Bush, or the head of the Democratic Party—or the board of directors of AT&T.
As many of you know, Dad was opposed to war and spoke more and more passionately about this over the years, in his column and with friends and family—to anyone, in fact, with whom he could broach the subject. Once a couple of years ago he was very discouraged and told me that he didn’t see the point of speaking out anymore. “No one is listening,” he said. Most poignantly to me, war was the topic most on his mind during the very last hours he was conscious in the hospital. He would cry out, and we’d say, “What’s the matter, Dad?” “War is terrible!” he’d reply, and he would slip back into sleep. To the end he fought for his beliefs even as he battled for his own life.
There are so many ways to describe my father: journalist, political leader, athlete, teacher, storyteller, mentor, world traveler, bon vivant, father, family patriarch, anti-war activist. Interestingly, on his gravestone Dad wanted the simple phrase, “He was an honest journalist.”
If he had asked me, however, I would have chosen for him the words spoken by St. Paul that have come to be a good epitaph for a man or woman at the end of a life well lived:
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

Kathleen Wiater


Sometimes fate presents gifts. We are meeting a amazing people. And something inside is changing. I was fortunate enough to know Ed. You know, just one lesson and all students have remembered this man as the best teacher. From the beginning he taught: “Guys, live in peace and love. You may say I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. Simply words can change our future. Unfortunately, teachers in school don’t tell this. They think we know about it and they forget about our small demons inside.
Ed had two, ten, twenty students in his class. Never mind, he could spill his wisdom on every head, it’s was like a mission. To be a good person is a talent too.
I remember our farewell meeting. I was dancing with Ed. In that time he said: “Please, slowly, cause I’m older than you”. And than I said:”You are younger than anybody in this class. Never mind that you are 82, because you know how to dream”. In my mind Edward is like a free bird, a power falcon. He will fly in eternity. In our Universe or in another.

By Masha Kislyh -
Student of Pomost 2010 from Kyiv