Aloysius Polaneczky, 92, of Oreland, a former computer programmer for the Franklin Institute’s research department and the Elf Atochem chemical company, died Sunday, May 24, at the Spring House Estates Retirement Community in Lower Gwynedd of heart disease and other natural causes.
Although he answered to the nickname “Bunny” throughout his life, because he was born on Easter 1928, Mr. Polaneczky was an intellectual. He graduated from Northeast High School at age 15, and got an engineering degree on full scholarship from Drexel and a master’s in statistics from Villanova. He did the New York Times crossword puzzles in ink.
But he knew how to have fun, too. He encouraged his kids to yell out the window to startle golfers as they drove by courses in their station wagon. He read Mad magazine, and laughed at comedians Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, and Steven Wright. He ate Lays potato chips whenever he wanted, even at Thanksgiving dinners.
He was a child prodigy on his accordion, which was emblazoned with his nickname in rhinestones. He played when they would let him at every community event and family party, and it led him to meeting his wife, Patricia Ford, when both took part in a talent show at St. Stephen’s Church in Germantown. She sang “Danny Boy” as he accompanied her on the accordion.
His other interests were eclectic as well. He wrote and performed barbershop quartet music, and energized the Abington chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. He was a ham radio enthusiast and used W3EFY as his call letters. He took his children far from the city so they could view the stars and planets and learn their names.
He fermented his own wine, painted in oils, fished, golfed, gave his kids haircuts, and sewed dresses for his daughters. He loved the Eagles. Even later in life, after he and his wife moved to Spring House Estates in 2003, he joined a theater group, read off the evening announcements in the dining hall, and shared aloud the weekly scripture at Sunday services.
Born in Eckley, Pa., northeast of Hazleton, Mr. Polaneczky moved to the Germantown section of Philly when he was 12. He and his wife, who died in 2010, moved to Oreland after they married in 1953 and raised nine children. He played the organ, directed the choir, and served as cantor and lector at Holy Martyrs parish, and coached baseball teams for the Oreland Little League.
“I can’t talk about my dad without talking about my mother,” daughter Rosemary Jenkins said. “They were such a team. He was the head. She was the heart. We are so grateful for the legacy they left us.”
He loved to tell stories. One of his favorites was that a local radio station asked him in 1964 to use the Franklin Institute’s Honeywell 1400 computer to calculate the odds, with 12 games left in the regular season, of the Phillies winning the National League pennant that year. The team had a 6½-game lead over second-place Cincinnati, and fans were certain the playoffs were in the bag.
So Mr. Polaneczky fed the statistics after each game into the computer and reported its prediction to anxious listeners. The result was not good. The Phillies lost 10 of those last 12 games, and some listeners branded Mr. Polaneczky a jinx when the Phils missed the playoffs.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Polaneczky is survived by sons Al Jr., Michael, and Joe; daughters Peggy, Pat Federowic, Ronnie (an editor at The Inquirer), and Mary Lou Rittenhouse; a brother; 29 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A daughter, Fran Paul, died earlier.
Services were private.