2017 “Pole of the Year” Richard J. Sloma
Picture of Col. Sloma (on right) receives the Legion of Merit from New York State Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy upon retirement in 2013
Richard Sloma was born in Syracuse and is the son of Zofia Rutkowska Sloma and the late Joseph Sloma. His father was a Polish laborer in Nazi Germany who came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1949. His mother came to the U.S. in 1963 after marring his dad in Warsaw. Both of his parents were active in the Syracuse Polish Community where they attended Sacred Heart parish and his dad was a founding member of the Polonez Men’s Chorus. Rich attended Sacred Heart School, the White Eagle Saturday Polish School and was a member of the St. Louis Club Polish Folk Dancers. He graduated from Fowler High School in 1982. He lives in the Albany area, but maintains close ties to Syracuse as an active member of the Polish Legion of American Veterans (PLAV), Post 14 and a member of the Syracuse Polish Home.
Rich holds a Master’s Degree from the University at Albany and is an Archivist with the New York State Archives in Albany. He is a member of the Polish American Historical Association.
As a native Syracusan and second generation Polish-American, Rich is especially proud of the contributions made by successive waves of Polish immigrants to Central New York. He has written a biography of Pvt. Eugeniusz Jablonowski, for whom PLAV Post 14 is named, a native Pole who was one of the first from Syracuse killed during the World War I. Rich has also done extensive research on the Polish immigrant community of Syracuse. He has added a tremendous amount of genealogical information about dozens of Syracuse’s earliest Polish families to internet websites. He is especially interested in documenting the contributions of Polish and Polish-American veterans, like Jablonowski, who had served and fought for our nation since the First World War. He is in the process of completing a website to further memorialize their sacrifice for their nation and to the principles of freedom and democracy.
Rich enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve after high school. He attended LeMoyne College, Syracuse University Army ROTC, and received his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego. He served in the Army on active duty with assignments in Vicenza, Italy, Fargo, ND and Albany and then departed active duty and joined the NY Army National Guard. In 2008 he deployed to Afghanistan with the 27th Infantry Brigade from Syracuse, serving as Director of Intelligence (J2) for Task Force Phoenix in Kandahar. Rich retired in 2013 at the rank of Colonel as the NYS Counterdrug Task Force Commander with 20 years of active duty service and 31 years total military service. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Airborne Badge.
Rich lives in Slingerlands, NY with his wife Susan and has two sons, Stefan and Dominic, and two step-daughters, Nicole and Stephanie. He and his wife enjoy hiking, biking and kayaking, the Adirondacks, traveling and spending time with their family.
On June 10, 2016, Congressman John Katko presented Cazenovia College’s very own Dr. Grażyna Kozaczka, distinguished professor of English and director of the All-College Honors Program, with the 2016 Outstanding Pole of the Year award given annually by the Polish Scholarship Fund. Congressman Katko also recognized Dr. Kozaczka as this year’s recipient during the May 26, 2016 session of Congress, entering the honor into Congressional Record. (See Congressman Katko’s statement (pdf).
A native of Krakow, Poland, Dr. Kozaczka received her doctoral degree in American Literature from Jagiellonian University. She is the author of a monograph about realism in American literature and a popular book on traditional Polish needlework. She is currently working on a study devoted to Polish American literature published after World War II. Dr. Kozaczka has published scholarly essays, short fiction, and other popular articles in both Polish and English.
“The Outstanding Pole award is given every year by the Polish Scholarship Fund to honor individuals for their contribution to Polish American communities,” commented Dr. Kozaczka. “I have been chosen this year for my work as the president of the Polish American Historical Association. It is a scholarly organization devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture.”
Dr. Kozaczka’s research interests include American ethnic literature, women’s literature, literature of the Holocaust, as well as traditional Polish folk dress and adornment. She is the president of Polish American Historical Association, an organization devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture as a part of the grater Polish Diaspora. She is also a member of the Polish Institute of Arts and Science of America, The Jozef Pilsudski Institute of America and the Modern Language Association.
Every year the Polish Scholarship Fund chooses 10 high school seniors of Polish descent to award scholarships. This organization is devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture. The 600 members of this worldwide organization are affiliated with colleges and universities that represent many disciplines in subjects such as history, literature, sociology, political sciences education, and musicology.
The Cazenovia College community congratulates Dr. Kozaczka on her latest honor and her continued work in the field of literature!
Source Published: Cazenovia College June 13, 2016 – 2:57pm
“2015 Pole of the Year “
Marian Poczobutt is a lifelong resident of Syracuse and member of Sacred Heart parish, where he attended grammar school. After graduating in 1981 from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, he worked as a Civil Engineer for the NY State Department of Transportation, later returning to SUNY ESF to obtain a Master’s Degree in Mapping Sciences, working at several positions in that field at the college.
Both of his parents immigrated to the United States. His father was a Prisoner of War in Germany, and then spent several years in a refugee camp before arriving in the United States in 1949. He and Marian’s mother were engaged prior to the outbreak of war, but were unable to reunite until 1958, when the Cold War thawed a little and she was able to come to Syracuse.
Polish was always spoken at home, and Marian attended the Saturday Polish classes for children at Sacred Heart. His parents also maintained Polish traditions and taught the family Polish history. He and his brother were sent to Poland in 1976 so that they would meet their extended family and know their homeland. That trip fueled Marian’s interest in Poland, its history and its people, and he has returned six times since then.
Marian has been on the Board of Directors of the Syracuse Polish Home and is currently the Financial Secretary. He is also the treasurer of the White Eagle Club. Marian volunteers at many events at the Polish Home, ranging from the monthly pancake breakfasts to special events such as Sacred Heart School reunions or last year’s 95th Anniversary Banquet.
His interest in and vast knowledge of Polish history has led him to give the annual Polish Heritage Month lecture on many topics relating to Poland, and also to create displays at Hazard Branch Library for Polish Heritage Month, and to assist with the annual May 3rdPolish Constitution Day observances. Marian also single-handedly ensures that Polish Flags are flying over the graves of Polish Veterans each Memorial Day. He has also created a display on “Poland in World War II” for the 2005 Polish Festival, which highlights the Enigma Code Breakers as well as Poland’s role in Monte Cassino.
PSF would like to thank Dr. Jozef J. Zwislocki and Tomasz Skwarnicki for generous contributions to our organization.
Outstanding Pole of 2014: Jozef J. Zwislocki
Outstanding Pole of 2013: Artur Pyrda
Outstanding Pole of 2012: Charlie Hollis
Outstanding Pole of 2011: Father Thomas P. Kobuszewski
Outstanding Poles of 2010: CNY Polka DJs
Outstanding Pole of 2009: Robert Synakowski
Outstanding Pole of 2008: Tomasz Skwarnicki
Outstanding Poles of 2007: The United Polka League
Outstanding Pole of 2006: Dr. Elizabeth Mroziewicz
Outstanding Poles of 2005: Joseph Baraniewicz and Walter Boruszewski
Outstanding Pole of 2004: Helga Kolek
Outstanding Pole of 2003: Professor Tadeusz Iwaniec
Outstanding Poles of 2002: Rev. Walter Madej and Dr. Richard Chmielewski
Outstanding Pole of 2001: Charlie Hollis
Pole of the Year is sponsored by Charles F. Hollis