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Feb 21, 2024

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103 Year Old Polonian Historian
Edward Pinkowski
Passes On

Pinkowski, Edward G. (b. August 11, 1916 to Polish immigrant parents in Willimansett, MA), historian, author, journalist. He was 103 years old and passed away peacefully during his sleep on January 11, 2020 at his home in Cooper City, Florida.

On the occasion of his 95th birthday in 2011 and his 100th birthday in 2016, he was honored by official proclamations from Broward County, Florida and Cooper City, Florida in recognition “as a national authority and among the greatest Polish-American historians of our century.”

Among his lifetime achievements, he was responsible for the identification and establishment of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial under the auspices of the National Park Service in Philadelphia and the identification and recognition of the final resting place in Savannah, Georgia of Casimir Pulaski, Polish American hero of the American Revolution and founder of the United States Cavalry.

When he was 14 years old, the family moved to the hard coal fields of Pennsylvania, where his father and grandfather previously worked in coal mines of the Mount Carmel area. There he started a writing career while still in high school. During World War II, he was a writer in the U.S. Navy and rose to the rank of Chief Specialist (X).

In 1967 he received the Kosciuszko Sesquicentennial Medal in Toronto from the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) for locating General Kosciuszko’s last residence in America, saving it for the purpose of creating a national monument, and placing an historical marker at 3rd and Pine Streets in Philadelphia. In 1976 the house-museum opened as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial under the auspices of the National Park Service.

He was a member of the Philadelphia Historical Commission from 1969 to 1985, and earlier was president, for four years, of the Spring Garden Civic Association in Philadelphia. He was the first lay chairman of the nominating committee and vice president of PAHA. He was chairman of the Ethnic Council and vice president of the Philadelphia 1976 Bicentennial Corporation. He was a founder of the Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC), and the person who created the name of that local organization. He served as a board member of the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, DC.

He erected a monument at the gravesite and a roadside marker in Douglassville, Pennsylvania to Anthony Sadowski, a Polish American frontiersman, 300 years after his birth. In 1989, he earned the Mieczyslaw Haiman Medal from PAHA “for outstanding Contribution in the field of Polish American studies.” In 1997 the ACPC recognized his lifetime of contributions to research in Polish American history by awarding him the Distinguished Service Award.

In 1996 he proved that General Pulaski’s remains were buried in a brick vault under the monument in Savannah, Georgia and was recognized by the mayor of Savannah with a key to the city for literally “rescuing Pulaski’s body from oblivion.” This was documented with DNA evidence in research sponsored by the Smithsonian Channel and broadcast as a documentary during 2019. Over the years, he devoted countless hours to research on Kosciuszko and Pulaski, not to mention hundreds of other figures, and is the author of several books and many articles.

In 2001, Edward Pinkowski was a recipient of the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit (Krzyz Kawalerski Orderu Zaslugi RP) awarded by President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski. Among the awards in recognition for his work are the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2004), the Kosciuszko Foundation Medal (2006), and the Pride of Polonia plaque (2009). He was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the American Institute of Polish Culture in Pinellas County, Florida (2003). He received international recognition for his work at the Museum of Kazimierz Pulaski in Warka, Poland.

To continue his lifelong commitment and dedication to the Preservation of Polish Heritage in America, Edward and his son, Jack Pinkowski, Ph.D., established the Poles in America Foundation, Inc., www.poles.org. It is a repository of his research and resource materials related to the Polish American experience and contributions to America.

He lived in Philadelphia for most of his life with his wife Connie (Rosiello), before moving to Florida in 1998. He is survived by two sons, James E. Pinkowski, of Fairfax Station Virginia, and Jack Pinkowski, of Plantation, Florida; and five grandchildren, Marcel Pinkowski, James E. Pinkowski II, Nathaniel L. Pinkowski, Tiffany Marie Pinkowski, and Ashley Rose Pinkowski.

Commemoration of life remembrances was held at T.M. Ralph Funeral Home in Plantation, Florida on January 15, 2020, and at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia at 10:00 AM on Saturday, January 18, 2020; followed by mass and burial at St Augustine’s Cemetery in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Submitted by Peter Obst

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Edward Pinkowski is the author of several books and monographs:
Lattimer Massacre, 1950; (monograph)
History of Bridgeport, Pa., 1951; (monograph)
Washington’s Officers Slept Here, 1953; (book)
Forgotten Fathers, 1953; (book)
Chester County Place Names, 1955, 62; (book)
John Siney – The Miners’ Martyr, 1963; (book)
Anthony Sadowski – Polish Pioneer, 1966; (monograph)
Pills, Pen and Politics: The story of Gen. Leon Jastremski,1974; (book)
General Pulaski’s Body, 1996; (monograph)

Credit for accompanying portrait, Colin Davidson, internationally renowned Irish portraitist.

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Sources: Marquis Who’s Who in the East 1972-1973, 13th edition, Chicago, 1972-1973; Encyklopedia Polskiej Emigracji i Polonii, ed. by Kazimierz Dopierala, Oficyna Wydawnicza Kucharski, Torun 2005