Meet Dr. Teofil Antoni Starzyński…

October 5, 2022

Adapted from the 2022 PFA Special Convention speech given by VP Trish

Teofil Starzynski was an incredible man – full of determination, discipline, passion, and concern, especially for the Polish people. Also, extremely intelligent!

He was born in Poland with his father being a manager for a wealthy estate. This was a benefit as Teofil had the same education as the landowner’s children. As a child, he was very interested in Poland’s independence and he loved to learn.

The family moved to the United States after his father died. His Mother and her children settled in Pittsburgh. Teofil worked in a pharmacy as a teenager and attended Pitt University where he obtained his medical degree. He had become a pharmacist previously and worked as a pharmacist while studying to become a doctor.

Dr. Starzynski was…

  1. The organizer of Nest 8 in 1897 (obviously a Member but also a Member of Nest 15-Braddock and Nest 30-McKeesport.
  2. The leader of the District IV movement to create a Falcon District. His thinking was that there was a need to attract other Falcon Nests, as well as enforce a better physical fitness program and include basic military drills in the gymnastics programs.

Originally supportive of the merger of the PNA, he became very active in the Free Falcons movement. Once this was accomplished, it was his motion to move headquarters to Pittsburgh.

Shortly thereafter in December of 1912, Dr. Starzynski was elected President and served until December 1918 when he resigned to join the Polish Army in France and eventually served in Poland.

One of his greatest accomplishments was the recruitment of Polish-Americans to fight with the Allied Powers on the Western Front. More than 22,000 men sailed to France to serve and were later transferred to Poland.

  1. He was a Major and both France’s and Poland’s governments decorated him with honors.
  2. Teofil organized the Polish Army Veterans (where he served as President).
  3. He also established the Polish American Congress in an effort to keep Americans involved with Poland.

In September 1924, Dr. Starzynski was elected President of the PFA. During his time as President, the Falcons established a fraternal insurance program. The Legion of Honor was established after Dr. Starzynski was approached by Walter Pawlak to establish an awards program for special recognition of the hardworking men and women of the PFA.

He passed away on June 9, 1952. Dr. Starzynski had headed the Falcons for 34 years. Upon his death, he was succeeded by the Treasurer Walter Laska.

Dr. Starzynski is buried in Doylestown, Pa.

In 1962, he was honored posthumously by the Polish Government in Exile in London for his WWI efforts and was promoted to the rank of “Brigadier General of the Polish American Army.”

The same year, President Walter Laska established the Dr. T.A. Starzynski Scholarship Fund.

The first recipients of the Dr. T.A. Starzynski Scholarship Program, each receiving $250, were:

  1. James Sopota of Nest 8, Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Joane Carol Zielski of Nest 401, Thompsonville, CT
  3. Mary Malinowski of Nest 805, Southington, CT

The program has grown and been modified quite a few times by adjusting the amounts of the grants and the categories. Learn more about the program here.

In closing, Dr. Staryznski was truly a remarkable man and visionary, and PFA is blessed for his insight!

Czolem!

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