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A Tribute To A Polish Texan Musical Icon

by Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz on November 6, 2009

in Articles,Culture,Musicians Bio,Polish Texans

Sigmund JozwiakSigmund Jozwiak
August 25, 1925 – November 4, 2009

There is no doubt that Sigmund was an Icon in Texas Polish history! He was loved and will be missed, but it is up to us to remember the legacy that he has made for Polish Texans and celebrate the impact he has made on each of us. I personally know that he loved seeing all of us get together and celebrate our Polish culture and heritage. He knew that our music and customs, of which he help preserve, would be safe and passed down to another generation for others to enjoy. Also, I am so thankful that he was able to sing at my oldest daughter’s (Kathy Ann ) wedding reception last year and that we have this on tape. Sigmund and I sang together during the unveiling of the bride ceremony and we sang in Polish “yesterday she was a maiden and today she becomes a woman”.

Sigmund Jozwiak and Jim Mazurkiewicz

Sigmund Jozwiak and Jim Mazurkiewicz

In addition, he played and sang at Kathy and my wedding 32 years ago and my parents wedding over 55 years ago. All of the Texas Polish songs that I play today are songs that I learned listening to Sigmund and the Polish Eagles play live over the years ( at weddings and parties ) and on the Polish Eagles tapes that I have. When I play and sing in Polish, it is because of Sigmund that I have this gift to give. He has passed his music and lyrics down to another generation and when I play, this is a tribute to him and the Polish treasure that he has help preserve. There is no question, that we have lost a true hero and treasure within our Polish Culture. He was our Patriarch!

I am so blessed to have know him and call him one of my mentors. He told me last year ( at Uncle Henry’s birthday party ) that he sat at my JaJa’s ( Steve Mazurkiewicz ) knee and watched Steve play the accordion when he was a little boy at Polish weddings and this inspired him to learn to play the accordion. Until that night, I did not know this. I told him that I too sat at his knee ( Uncle Sigmund ) growing up at Polish weddings and that he inspired me to learn to play and keep the Polish music alive for the next generations to come. I have a picture of the two of us playing together last year and I will always cherish that night.

Uncle Sigmund was my Great Uncle. My dad’s mother Francis was a Jozwiak from home and Sigmund’s older sister. There were 14 kids in that family and Sigmund was #14 and my Boosha was #3. Sigmund would be my children’s Great Great Uncle. In addition, Sigmund was the last of the first generation Polish Texans to be born in this country. Both of his parents were born in Poland ( Slawno and Poznan, Poland ) and that makes me the third generation to be born in the U.S. This summer my uncle Henry, my son James, and my youngest daughter Stephanie had the opportunity to go to Poland and visit the churches and villages of Sigmund’s parents and grandparents. This was certainly a moving and life changing experience. Throughout the trip, uncle Sigmund was in our hearts and thoughts as we listened to the music and lyrics of our Polish heritage. Sigmund was no doubt an inspiration to me and my family and his memory will live on forever in each of us that he touched. I have had the opportunity to meet and know many influential people in my life, but it was a privilege and honor to have know him and call him one of my hero’s. Uncle Sigmund made a large and lasting impression on me and I will always cherish his memory.

God Bless Sigmund and his family!

 

 

 

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