Eugene Joseph Polaski, 81, of Lancaster, PA, passed away on April 8, 2017 at Hospice & Community Care in Mt. Joy. He was the loving Husband of Betty Jo E. (Huhn) Polaski.
Born in Old Forge, PA., he was the son of the late Anthony and Genevieve Polaski.
He received his Undergraduate Degree at Mansfield State College and his post graduate from Penn State University and Trenton State University. He later received his Master’s Degree in Music Education at Temple University.
He proudly served in the US Army.
Gene was a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, Lancaster Pa. and in his later years Calvary Church, Lancaster, PA.
Eugene spent much of his career as a music educator at Pennsbury Senior High School, Bucks County, PA from 1967 to 1981 and was director of the marching band, concert band and jazz band.
His accomplishments were taking the jazz band, his first love, and marching band overseas to England where they performed at the famed Royal Albert Hall and various jazz clubs throughout the country, as well as performing for the Queen of England. His jazz band performed regularly for the Philadelphia 76ers as well as a featured guest on the popular daytime program, Mike Douglas show. After retiring from teaching he began a 28-year career at the Lancaster county prison as a commitment officer and received the prestigious “Lock and Key Award”.
Gene is survived by: his wife of 55 years Betty Jo Polaski of Lancaster, PA; a daughter, Elizabeth Larsen, wife of Mike Larsen of Cumming, Ga; sons, Mark Polaski of Levittown, PA and Ted Polaski husband of Rhonda Polaski of Holtwood, PA. Also surviving are 7 grandchildren, Erik & Andrew Polaski, Elle, Isabel, Thomas & Helena Larsen. Rhiannon Enck-Polaski and a great-grandchild, Finley Polaski. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Memorial Service at Calvary Church, 1051 Landis Valley Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601 on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 11:00 AM. A visitation will be held from 10:00 AM until the time of the service.
Greetings to the family, friends and students of Mr. Polaski. I was in the Pennsbury Falcon Marching Band Color Guard and was a soloist for one of the songs of the 1978 football season and band competition. I also had Mr. Polaski for Music Theory classes I and II. I learned much from him about writing scores of music and transposing instruments to concert pitch. His teaching was both challenging and supportive to my gifts and pursuits in music. He will be remembered for great contribution to my confidence in using my gift in music. Blessings and condolences to his family.
this is andrew and i just want to say thank you so much to everybody’s thoughts and no prayers to my late grandfather. he was a amazing man
In the late 1960’s, I was a member the PHSMB, known in those days as the “Falcon Band.” I recall that Mr. Polaski came on as director following the tenure of a very popular predecessor and that he quickly transformed us from “show band” mode to more of precision marching unit. This was before the glory days of the band with trips abroad, appearances on TV, etc. However, we all felt proud to be part of the group. The training and experience I had in both the marching band and the concert band at Pennsbury served me well when I left for college. I played in Cornell University’s Big Red Band for 4 years as an undergraduate, where I became a rank leader as well as band librarian. I was also in the Wind Ensemble, where I played (depending on the year) B-flat clarinet, alto clarinet, and piccolo. I still think back with gratitude on my band experiences at Pennsbury, for their impact extended far beyond the time I spent in high school. My heartfelt sympathies to the family.
My heartfelt sympathies to your family. I had 12 years of fantastic music memories from PHSMB and jazz band between my two brothers and myself. Mr P had a phenomenal connection to music and an ability to get the most out of the students and he had a positive and long-lasting effect on all of the students he taught. He set the bar high and taught us all something about standards. I will never forget him or his love for music. I went to concerts from age 6 on when my brothers played but one of my favorite memories was from B period band. We were playing a piece–nothing special or new –but we made it through the whole piece and it was perfect. He didn’t stop us once. Everyone was in the zone. I can’t remember his comment- he would never intentionally give out much of one since that was not his way–but I could tell he was moved. I have a visual memory of him shaking his head in surprise. It will stay with me forever. I have so many great memories. I wish I could have talked to him before he passed. All my sympathies to you and your family.
Was a student of him at George Washington elementary- condolences to the family ????
I was a student of Gene’s at Pennsbury, class of ’77, and being part of his marching and jazz bands were among the best parts of my younger life. His knowledge of music and his style were a constant inspiration. I still regularly listen to our old jazz band and Stan Kenton recordings and when I do I always think of him and those good old days. I always had a great respect for Gene and could not begin to measure what effect his influence has had on me. I have missed him since he left teaching in the area and will continue to do so.
I was in the Pennsbury marching band color guard class of 1968. I have fond memories of Mr. Polaski. Its has been such a long time ago, but I remember it like it was just yesterday. My sincere condolences for your loss.
Mr. Polaski taught me to play the clarinet. He was my music teacher from 4th through 7th grades at George Washington Elementary School and Edward Hand Junior High School in Lancaster, PA. I’ll never forget his creativity and expertise. I was in his band, orchestra, and City Band. In elementary school we performed difficult music: “Exodus”, “Malaguena”, Broadway show tunes, to name a few. My father still raves about Mr. Polaski as he tells friends just how professional we sounded under his direction. Mr. Polaski loaned his own wooden clarinet to me until my father was able to purchase one for me. Mr. Polaski drove me to City Band rehearsals at McCaskey High School when I wasn’t able to get a ride. He truly was a star with a great smile. I send my sympathy to his wife and family.
I worked with Gene at the jail on the same shift for all of his 28 years there. I was the evening administrator (Associate Warden) and constantly had to tell Gene to “slow down”. Gene felt it was his duty and responsibility to process every new inmate that came in on our shift. We shared laughs, a great working relationship and I “overlooked” his radio broadcasting the MLB baseball games (against jail regulations) on his duty post. We retired at the same time and Gene sat in my office chatting for an hour on our last shift together. He is fondly and respectfully remembered.