Sylvester F. Wisniewski, artist, teacher, husband, father, grandfather and friend, died Tuesday, May 15, 2012, four days after his 81st birthday.
Dr. Wisniewski was born in Baltimore, the fourth of six children to Polish-born parents, Casimira (Elizabeth) and Ben Wisniewski. His interest in learning was recognized early and his family provided him the opportunity to attend Mt. Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore. After graduation from "Mt. St. Joes," he attended St. Vincent College, Towson State College, Mexico City University, University of Oregon and finally Columbia University where he earned his PhD.
He often shared many colorful stories about growing up in the Fells Point area of Baltimore, which at that time was a tight-knit Polish neighborhood. He was proud of his Polish heritage and grew up in a close family and enjoyed a life-long connection to his extended family.
Sylvester F. Wisniewski
In 1977, he participated as a professor in an exchange program between Lock Haven State College and Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland. He brought his children with him for the semester and they all had the opportunity to meet and spend time with their extended Polish family.
He was an active member of the Lock Haven and Mill Hall, Pa., communities for the 40-plus years he lived in the area. As a young boy he visited the area during a Boy Scout hike through the Appalachian Mountains. He told himself then that if he ever had a chance to spend his life in the area he would, and when he moved to Lock Haven in the early 1970s to begin teaching at what was then Lock Haven State College, he fulfilled that dream. Influenced by a lecture given by Buck-minster Fuller when he was a young man, he built his dream home, a series of geodesic domes perched on a hillside in Bald Eagle Township. Many residents of the area will recall the numerous parties Stan and Betty held at "the domes" over the years.
While he loved his life in Pennsylvania, he was ready to retire and spend winters in a warmer climate. He and Betty quickly embraced the Matlacha island community. His involvement with the Pine Island Art Association brought him great joy and fulfillment and he cherished the new friends he made through that organization.
He loved to paint and draw in his large open studio at "the domes." He loved books and was a voracious reader of fiction and especially poetry.
Last fall, knowing that he had a terminal illness, he decided to take a month-long road and train trip to the west coast and back, across the U.S. and through the Canadian Rockies. He and a dear friend had a glorious time enjoying fine food and beautiful destinations.
Dr. Wisniewski is survived by a sister, Dorothy Wisniewski, and a brother, Leo Wisniewski, both of Baltimore; children, Kate Wisniewski of Seattle, Wash., Chris Wisniewski of Friday Harbor, Wash., and Lisa Wisniewski or Portland, Ore.; and grandchildren, Olivia Evans and Russell Evans of Portland, Ore.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty C. Wisniewski, and his former wife and the mother of his children, Joanne Russell.
A memorial service will be held at Lock Haven University at a later date to be announced.
The family suggests remembrances to the Pine Island Art Association, Matlacha, or Hope Hospice, Cape Coral.