John Switalski,88, traveling journalist
BARRINGTON, R.I. - John Switalski, editor and journalist, died July 4, 1997, at Rhode Island Hospital. He had resided in Barrington on Ferry Lane since 1984. Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, October 10, 1908, son of the late Frank and Lillian Helfrich Switalski, he attended schools in Cincinnati. After matriculating at St. Xavier University, he joined the Cincinnati AAA-automobile club, which his father managed. He then became one of AAA's first road scouts, logging some 100,000 miles of highways in the U.S. and Canada in the late 1920's.
Mr. Switalski then made a 10,000-mile motor tour of 13 countries of Europe at his own expense, returning to Poland in 1932 to study the Polish language, a skill which after World War II caused the Hoover Institute at Stanford University to employ him to translate statements of Polish citizens who had been imprisoned in Soviet labor camps during World War II.
During World War II, Mr. Switalski did research for Rand McNally and map production for the U.S. Armed Forces. From 1949 to 1955 he was a research editor for the Chicago-based News Map of the Week, an education periodical. After some years as a geography editor for the American Peoples Encyclopedia and Britannica Junior, he became a copyreader for the Gary Indiana Post-Tribune. His last job involved editing a training bulletin and film scripts for the Chicago Police Academy. He retired to Oakland, California in 1972, but moved to Rhode Island when his son-in-law Leonard H. Lesko joined the faculty of Brown University.
Mr. Switalski's keen interest in advocacy for the Captive Nations during the Cold War period led him to write extensively for American Polish newspaper and journals. He had a weekly column in the now-defunct Polish American Journal of Chicago during the 1960's and for several years reviewed books on Poland and Eastern Europe for a number of newspapers and journals.
Mr. Switalski is survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Lee Janke-Saikowski, his daughter Barbara Lesko of Barrington, and a sister Leah Bien of Cincinnati.
Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations either to Brown University Library for book and periodicals regarding Polish culture or to the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, 208 E. 30th St., New York 10016.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 10, 1997, No. 32, Vol. LXV
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