April 25, 2003

The Virtuti Militari

The Virtuti Militari is the highest honor in the Polish military, equivalent to the American Medal of Honor and the British Victoria Cross. It was instituted in 1792 and is conferred on Polish soldiers "solely for deeds of exceptional bravery and valor at the risk of their lives before an armed enemy, above and beyond the call of duty." For more on this and other Polish medals.

Andrew Hellwig (Andrzej Panczakiewicz) also held the Medal of Valor and the Monte Cassino Cross.

Update: I probably should mention that Andrew's father Adolf Panczakiewicz also received the Virtuti Militari during World War I.

Posted by campbell at 09:15 PM | TrackBack

Andrew Hellwig 1921-2003

HELLWIG-PANCZAKIEWICZ, Andrew Joseph (Retired Imperial Oil engineer)

Died on April 14, 2003 in Toronto at 81. The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease.

Born on August 22, 1921 in Warsaw, Poland, Andrew was just beginning medical school in 1939 when World War II broke out. Escaping from Poland on skis, he joined the Polish 2nd Army Corps. He served as Lieutenant and was awarded Poland's highest medal for bravery, the Virtuti Militari, in Italy. After the war he completed a chemical engineering degree in London, England, where he met his wife, Betty. They emigrated to Canada in 1957 and Andrew worked at Imperial Oil from 1957-1983.

Throughout his life, Andrew took great pleasure in his time with family organizing picnics on the shores of Lake Huron, rowing and fishing in Georgian Bay, or simply tending his rose garden and watching the birds with Betty. His smile was infectious as was his deep love of his land of birth, which he passed on to all of us. His curiosity made him a wonderful travel companion, and over decades he maintained friendships with many in faraway places. We will all miss him.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, his brother, Adam, his children, Basia, John and Stefan, and his five grandchildren, Christopher, Stefan, Sasha, Zoe and Michael. Friends may call at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton Avenue West, on Monday, April 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Basil's, 50 St. Joseph Street (at Bay) on Tuesday, April 22 at 10 am. Interment Mount Hope Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Parkinson Society Canada, 4211 Yonge Street, Suite 316, Toronto, Ontario M2P 2A9 or to the Charitable Foundation of Canadian Polish Congress, 288 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6R 2M4. The family gives special thanks to the staff at Kensington Gardens.

Goodbye, Andrew

Posted by campbell at 08:53 PM | TrackBack