Paul J. Zdanowicz ’50

Paul J. Zdanowicz ’50 died on January 2, 2020 in Scarborough, Maine.

(The following was published by the Maine Sunday Telegram on January 5, 2020)

Paul Zdanowicz, 93, passed away on January 2, 2020, peacefully in the presence of his family. Paul was born on December 5, 1926. He was the son of Stanislaus Peter Zdanowicz of Dunilowicze, Poland, in what is now Belarus and Tekla Niedzwiecka of Svencionus, Poland, in what is now Lithuania. Paul had a maternal great-grandfather who was a member of the minor nobility.

Paul graduated in 1944 from Portland High School, where he played football and basketball on championship teams and was a member of the Latin Club.

He attended Columbia University in N.Y.C., then came home and joined the Navy after Congress passed the GI bill. He went to Sampson Naval Training Station in N.Y., then Bainbridge, Md. for training as a radio operator. He served on an ARL (Auxiliary Repair Landing Ship), destroyers, Smith and Talbot and an LST (Landing Ship Tank). He spent time in Pearl Harbor, Saipan in the Mariana Islands and Manila. He received medals for the liberation of the Philippine Islands and the occupation of Japan. Japan surrendered while Paul was at sea as part of a task force on the way to attack the Japanese homeland.

After the war, he was on a ship that was sent to the Bikini Islands for an atom bomb test. While at Bikini he remembers being on shark patrol and while in Sasebo, Japan, being on night patrol searching for underwater demolition crews. Upon his return to the United States he maintained his connection with the military by joining VFW Post 453 where he served as adjutant of the Stopyra Post of Lawrence, Mass., where he was selected as honorary state commander of the Polish American Legion. Upon his return, he began school at the University of Maine Annex in Brunswick, where he played on an undefeated basketball team. He then transferred to Bowdoin College where he was a dean’s list student, a member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, played football on a championship team at Bowdoin and played basketball as well. In 1949, he graduated and began teaching at Portland High where he was an assistant football and basketball coach. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Maine in 1953.

In 1954, he married Eleanor “Norrie” Mahaney of Saco. They moved to Philadelphia, Pa. where Paul became a teacher/coach at Girard College (a prep school). While at Girard he earned an Ed.D, writing his dissertation on middle schools, one of the first on this topic. He also co-authored the Brown University Bridgewater Report. Paul was the principal of Bridgewater Middle School for several years. It was the first successful middle school in New England. Paul became a superintendent of schools in Lee, Otis and Tyringham, Mass. and then Solon, Ohio, completing his career as superintendent in Methuen, Mass. Paul was elected to the Methuen High School Athletic Hall of Fame for his leadership in providing state of the art facilities including an ice rink and field house, which helped Methuen become the premiere school in athletics in its division for three consecutive years. He was also awarded a plaque by radio station WCCM of the Curt Gowdy broadcasting company for support of high school athletics. For these and other professional accomplishments he was elected to membership in Marquis’s Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in Education and the Royal Blue Book. His career included coaching in college and adjunct college teaching.

Upon his retirement and return to Maine he was elected to the Maine Sports Legends. He was also a member of the Portland Boys and Girls Alumni Association.

As an avid golfer, he was happy to have had a hole in one at the Andover, Mass. Country Club, he won a hole in one contest at a Heart Association event and won a New England Superintendent of Schools Golf Tournament in Cape Cod, Mass.

Paul enjoyed a lifetime of wedded bliss, and raising two children, Ann and Julie. Norrie and Paul were both career educators. They traveled to Canada, including Vancouver, the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper, Montreal, Quebec City and Nova Scotia, Alaska, Guadalajara, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Thomas, St. Marten, British Isles, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Thailand, Tunisia, Venezuela, Panama Canal, Aruba, Costa Rica and Guatemala as well as many places in the U.S. Winter vacations were frequently spent in St. Simons Island, Ga., playing golf with friends. Of all these places he loved Maine best, especially Portland, Sebago Lake, Bar Harbor, and Pine Point.

Paul was devoted to his family, church, his country and the schools where he worked. His family will forever miss him.

The family would like to extend a special thanks to his caregivers, Hope and Lisa for the wonderful care that made life worth living over the past few years. A heartfelt thanks to the staff at the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough for the exceptional care they gave him in his final days.

Paul is survived by two sisters, Caroline Joann Zdanowicz of Portland, and Victoria Stanislava Patry of Cape Elizabeth; his wife of 65 years, Eleanor Mahaney Zdanowicz; two daughters, Ann and son-in-law Tom Nash, Julie Zdanowicz and son-in-law, Jeff Pullins. A great source of pride are his grandchildren, Katya, a French teacher, Hillary, a nursing student who currently works in the NICU at Maine Medical Center, and Ellie, an honor student at Falmouth High School. In addition, nephews, James, Joe and Paul Wyse; and niece, Carolyn Robinson and their children, Kaera, Cole and Nicholas Wyse, Nicole Ruginski, Katherine and Paul Kirk.

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