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The ‘Piano Man’ who returned to Poland, was the object of international interest | tidings

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Homemade sweet home, new 'piano man' accommodation, first smile of the month

Zyggy Szymczak will leave the North Port for his native Poland.




NORTH PORT Zyggy Szymczak is going home.

The North Port man rescued from the homeless will return to Poland, his country of origin and where he has family, said Dr. Elizabeth Pulawski, Szymczak’s translator and a friend.

Overall, I think this is good, she said. His daughter wants to bring her father back.

Szymczak, 87, has a son, daughter and close family in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.



The 'piano man' who returned to Poland was the object of international interest

Justin Willis, right, and Larry Phillips, left, in December worked to find a new home for Zyggy Szymczak.




He left there in 1984. He was an architect in New York, ending up in South Florida as a nightclub and concert pianist. Szymczak had performed in Poland in the 1950s and ’60s with a band called the Jolly Boys. The ensemble performed music in the American or Western European style.

This remained key to Szymczak’s life in America, turning a hobby into a profession in Florida.

Szymczak came to the North Port in recent years, where he lived in a mobile home in the Myakka River Park. The community on River Road and the Tamiami Trail was bulldozed in January. Squatters and some strollers from the best days of the park were left while others left.

Szymczak lived in isolation, his house was full of things and memories.

He used jugs to catch rainwater, smiled and formally bowed to visitors, asking for help in English pidgin to translate certified mail. It was the eviction notice without response. He would carefully correct with a pencil the misspelling of his name on each stamped document, uttering the word “Zyggy” while performing that task.

And then he would sit down and play wonderfully between the mold inside and the chaos outside his once-regular park.

The developers plan to retail for that flattened corner now.

But Szymczak was trapped in imminent poverty, age and language barriers. His trailer was minutes from wreckage when friends went inside after raising money for a replacement not far from Myakka River Park. The others in the park were not so lucky.



The 'piano man' who returned to Poland was the object of international interest

Zyggy Szymczak.




Szymczak’s story worked all over the world, where his daughter Monica read it in a local newspaper, said Justin Willis, who led the volunteer campaign to save Szymczak.

Polish officials in America had set in motion the wheels for her father to return home. There are things to repair, visas and retirement benefits. Szymczak will then be reunited with a family he had not visited in decades.

Szymczak, Willis said, has done wonders.

The country-like site where Szymczak had lived since January was paid for with gifts and checks by the developer at Myakka River Park and a local attorney, Boohof Law Firm. Szymczak had previously been detained with an undisclosed medical condition after police found him filling a container with water in a nearby neighborhood.

But when things settled down, Szymczak came to his new home with tremendous relief, said Willis, who played as he noticed his white piano inside the clean trailer and looked at the keys like a schoolboy.

That joy of fun was occasionally thrown into the Olde World Restaurant North Port, where he played a piano once owned by the Ringling family in Sarasota.

Due to international coronavirus restrictions and the unification of travel plans, however, Szymczak’s return to Poland may take time. But it is inevitable, Pulawski said. Asked if he had made friends in his new home with friends who spent the night, he said ‘no’, Pulawski said.

I would rather see family reunited than a good friend stay close, Willis added.

The Szymczak trailer turns into a nonprofit organization for similar use in the future, Willis said.

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