On August 19, 2008 Les Kuczynski, the National Executive Director and long time officer of the Polish American Congress (PAC) and the Polish National Alliance (PNA), died of a serious illness.
“Les was one of those very special people that always fight for what is right,” said Frank Spula, the President of the Polish American Congress, and added, “Les was passionate about the causes that he believed in, and compassionate about people in need.”
Les Kuczynski was born in Lubeck, Germany in 1947 of parents who were sent to Germany after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Six years later, the whole family emigrated to the USA as Displaced Persons.
He earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota (1972) and an MBA (1982) from the Keller Graduate School of Management.
Appointed by Polish National Alliance President Al Mazewski in 1985 as General Counsel, he continued to serve in that function for PNA Presidents Edward Moskal and Frank Spula.
In 1991, Les was appointed as National Executive Director of the Polish American Congress. During his time with the organization, he played numerous crucial roles, including close cooperation with Myra and Cas Lenard of the Washington DC Office on coordination of PAC’s effort for enlisting US Senate support of NATO membership for Poland. Starting in 1999 Les led the German Forced Labor Compensation Program on behalf of the Polish American Congress and the Polish American community in general. First, he represented Polonia during plenary meetings with the US State Department and then, as an advisor for the International Organization on Migration (IOM, the Geneva-based partner administering the program), and since 2002 acted as a member of the Appeals Panel reviewing denied claims of forced labor and personal injury.
For a period of time when he also directed the efforts of the Polish American Congress Charitable Foundation, the Foundation sent more than $150 million in assistance to Poland in the form of donations, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and medical texts to Polish hospitals, orphanages and homes for seniors.
In 2002 he was elected Chairman of the Council of World Polonia (Rada Polonia Swiata) for a four-year term comprised of leaders representing Polonia organizations from around the world, and from 2002 to 2005 he was a member of the Consultative Committee established by the Marshal of the Polish Senate. In 2002 he was also appointed (and re-appointed in 2005) to the Advisory Board of the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center.
“I think the fact that he himself came to this country as a Displaced Person through Ellis Island and watched his family start a new life, made him truly appreciate his new homeland and all it has to offer. At the same time, he did not forget about those less fortunate, and his life was the best example of how he always tried to help. Les was a very good man. The Polish American Congress, and me personally, will miss him very much,” said Spula.
Les Kuczynski is survived by his wife Alice, an attorney in Chicago in private practice and a member of the Park Ridge Zoning Board of Appeals, and their son Andrew.
The visiting will take place on Thursday, August 28 from 2:00pm until 9:00pm at the Colonial Wojciechowski Funeral Home located at 8025 West Golf Rd., Niles, IL www.colonialfuneral.com
On Friday, August 29, 2008, visitors will be assembling at 9:00am with a short service at the chapel. A Mass will be held at 10:00am at St. Paul of the Cross Church located at 325 South Washington Avenue, Park Ridge, IL. The interment will take place at Mary Hill Cemetery, Niles, IL.