Ronald J. Galewski will be the newest face joining the ranks of many proud Poles in the Polish Hall of Fame.
Ronald J. Galewski
Galewski, who before his retirement was a construction superintendent with Fowler and Hammer, has been involved in many facets of the Winona Polish community including genealogy researcher, archivist at the Polish Museum, and volunteer at the churches of St. Stanislaus and St. John’s, and author of several books related to the history of Dodge, Wisc., and Whistler’s Pass. All projects Galewski has completed demonstrate how deeply involved he is in promoting the Polish-American culture.
When asked if he is proud of his heritage, he responded with a resounding, “You bet I am.”
“My pride for being Polish is something you wouldn’t believe,” Galewski said. “I live with it, and I live it.”
Born and raised in Winona, Galewski was told his family’s history early on. His ancestors took a ship from Ugoszcz, Poland, to Quebec, Canada. They then came down the St. Lawrence River to the United States in 1859. Galewski’s family hometown of Ugoszcz is just 15 km from Winona’s sister city, Bytow.
Galewski attended St. Stanislaus School, Washington-Koscuiszko and graduated from Winona Senior High School. After graduation, Galewski served in the Navy as part of the Naval Air Squadron in the Korean War.
After returning to Winona in 1955, Galewski married Elaine Wise and the couple had six children: Robert, Roxanne, Renee, Richard, Rochelle and Randy.
Galewski began working construction with his father and then moved on to various construction and carpentry jobs, eventually becoming the Senior Superintendent for the construction firm Fowler and Hammer Inc. His first project was building the First National Bank on the corner of 4th and Main Street in Winona, now the Winona County Government Center.
As part of Fowler and Hammer, Inc., he went on to help with other building projects in Winona and La Crosse, such as the Goodview School, large additions to Badger Equipment Company, formerly Warner Sweazy, large additions to Peerless Chain Company, both Badger and Gorman Foundry, Surplus Store and Home Furniture, now Slumberland, among other projects. For his construction work contribution to Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in Winona, Galewski was honored by staff members.
“I was honored by Gundersen Lutheran as the honorary Bridge Builder of the Month,” he said. “So I have been honored before but that was for my work. This time I’m honored for being Polish and being in the Hall of Fame; this is much bigger.”
Galewski also voluntarily contributed his craftsmanship to the Polish Museum in Winona by installing two furnaces and building an office and display cases.
His work at the Polish Museum led him to genealogy work and he became the museum’s genealogist. Galewski entered records into the database, including all the church records for St. Stanislaus and St. John’s through the year 2000.
From this project, Galewski turned his sights to his family genealogy and has compiled a history book dedicated to retracing his family’s steps.
“I have worked for the last 15 years putting together this book that is everything Galewski,” he said. “It’s about to be finished. It’s called the Galewski History Book and it tells the genealogy dating back to 1292.”
Galewski said he is a proud member of the Polish Museum and the Polish Genealogical Society of Minnesota.
He has also written two other history books on Dodge, Wisc., and Whistlers Pass, which runs from Fountain City to Trempealeau.
Galewski continued to offer his services to the parish of St. Stanislaus by making flower stands and candle holders, remodeling confessionals, making and installing altar railings, and repairing pews.
“I am a devout Catholic and I grew up in the church and I was always so close to the church and to the religious people in the family,” he said. “It’s everything to me.”
For the generous work he and his wife have done at St. Stanislaus over the many years, the parishioners awarded the couple a plaque thanking them.
And for this work and much more, the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum is inducting Galewski into the Hall of Fame as a gesture of pride and thanksgiving.
“I was surprised, of course,” he said. “Basically, it didn’t hit me until about six days later. This is my Polish history and I’m so proud of my heritage.”
The induction of Galewski as the newest member will be held Saturday, May 5, 2012, at the social hour and dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Veteran’s Center on Sarnia Street.
Tickets are $15 and available at Midtown Foods, HyVee and the Polish Cultural Institute until April 30.