Man of the year 1994
Anthony S. Matrejek
Born on December 7, 1932 in what was known as South Brooklyn to Antoni and Elżbieta Matrejek (nee Kielbasa). Attended Our Lady of Częstochowa grammar school, receiving his diploma from Msgr. Bolesław Puchalski. Upon graduating from Straubenmuller Textile High School in Manhattan, he entered the workforce at The Greater New York Savings Bank in Brooklyn. To further his career in banking, Anthony attended the American Institute of Banking and completed specialized courses in business and management at the Fairfield University in Connecticut. His thirty eight years of dedicated service to the bank was interrupted by a two year hitch in the United States Army where he attained the rank of Sergeant First Class while on duty in Korea in 1954.
As a young boy. Anthony's father would take him to the picnics held in Prospect Hall and it was there the founder of the Polish American Folk Dance Company, Frances Wesołowska Poplawski, signed him up and started his involvement in Polish folk dance and in Polonia. Little did our honoree know that he would follow in his fathers footsteps as a member of this prestigious organization, however, in a different category. Anthony Matrejek, Sr. was a self-employed roofer and was made an honorary member on January 11, 1966 at a special night in his honor.
In the late forties, Anthony and the dance company participated in the U.S.O. program to entertain the convalescing servicemen in St. Albans Hospital on Friday nights. This activity continued for many years with various other entertainers. For many years the dance company would represent Poland at the annual Women's International Exposition at the 34th Street United States Army Armory. It was there where Anthony's talents were used to make the best of whatever could be gotten from pre-war free Poland and display these artifacts properly in competition with other nations of the world.
Shortly after Anthony married Wanda Gaweda in September 1960, they participated in the Rheingold Beer Company ethnic series commercial with members of the P.A.F.D.C. and Matusz Dance Circle. It was an exciting experience for all, dancing for five hours to make a sixty second commercial.
Anthony's involvement in scouting began when his firstborn son, Lance, wanted to join the Cub Scouts when he was in the third grade in St. Agatha's School in Sunset Park. Anthony was told his son would be accepted under the condition that one parent had to be active in the Pack. His involvement became increased after his second son, Christoper, joined the same Cub Pack 182. Both Lance and Christopher graduated from Cub Scouts and went into Boy Scout Troop 182, where Christopher rose to the rank of Eagle Scout During Anthony's sixteen years in Cub Scouting, he led the Pack as Committee Chairman, Cubmaster and Assistant Webelo Leader. On June 29, 1979 Bishop Francis J. Mugavero presented Anthony his Catholic Youth Organization award and medal.
Anthony has been an active member of St. Agatha's Holy Name Society for over twenty years and served as its president from 1978 to 1982 and reelected thereafter since 1992. It was during his first tenure as president that he chaired their first Polish Night. The evening mesmerized this once predominantly Irish and Italian parish with authentic Polish artifacts, cuisine, music and entertainment.
Anthony's crowning joy, his daugher Helene, followed in his footsteps, as a member of the Polish American Folk Dance Company from her childhood to present. She has travelled with them to Poland to participate in the World Festival of Polish Folk Dance in Rzeszów.
Being community minded Anthony became a member in the O'Brien Association of Bay Ridge, Inc. where he held every office up to president. His civic concern for the neighborhood caused him to join the Sunset Park Restoration Committee. As an executive of The Council of United Polish Societies of South Brooklyn, was Instrumental in organizing the 50th year observance of the start of World War It for the United States at the monument of Polish-American servicemen and women on the grounds of Prospect Hall in Brooklyn on December 8, 1991.
His other memberships include Kolbe Club at Our Lady of Czestochowa St. Casimir R.C. Church, The Kosciuszko Foundation, American Council of Polish Culture, American Society of Notaries and the American Legion Post #1.
Anthony's most recent acknowledgement came when the readers of the Polish American World selected him as one of their Citizen of the Year on May 6, 1993.