Farewell Dr. Zbysław Petryka

Dr. Zbysław Petryka attending the PMC's unveiling of the Paderewski Monument at USC. Los Angeles, October 2007.

By Marek Żebrowski

With great sadness, we note the passing of Dr. Zbysław Petryka, a longtime friend and supporter of the Polish Music Center. He died on January 18 and was 88 years old. He is survived by his sister, niece and her family in Poland.

Born on 11 February 1930 in Warsaw, Dr. Petryka died at the Szarotka Retirement Residence in Los Angeles on January 19. He studied chemistry in Poland and in the 1950s left for England. A few years later he emigrated to the United States, first living in Minnesota and then moving on to Utah and finally Southern California. As a scientist, Dr. Petryka contributed a number of articles in areas of chemistry and medicine for the Annals of Internal Medicine. Together with several US researchers, he discovered that acute porphyric attacks can be successfully treated by the infusion of hematin and that such attacks are associated with severe heme depletion in the liver. Passionate about philosophy, Dr. Petryka often discussed it with friends and wrote on the subject as well. His thoughts on links between chemistry and eco-philosophy (Przyjaźń chemika z ekofilozofem) were referenced in Kwartalnik filozoficzny published by Polska Akademia Umiejętności. He was also a member of the Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society.

After moving to Southern California, Zbysław Petryka actively participated in and generously supported many Polish organizations, serving for years as a speaker for the Polska Fala Radiowa broadcasts and as Editor-in-Chief of the Polish section of News of Polonia. A member of the Polish-American Congress of Southern California, Dr. Petryka also belonged to the Friends of John Paul II Foundation of Southern California for over 30 years. Joining it almost from its inception, he was a long-time vice-president and served on the board of directors until 2018. Energetic, friendly and always happy to help, he seemed to attend every event organized by his compatriots in the area.

Besides his activities in Polish émigré circles, Dr. Petryka often attended LA Philharmonic concerts and LA Opera performances. He was also a regular guest at many of the Polish Music Center’s concerts and lectures as well as a steady and generous supporter of the Center since 1991. In 2007 Dr. Petryka also donated a substantial amount of books, music recordings and facsimile scores of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Szymanowski to the Polish Music Center’s library. His gentle smile and dignified presence at our events and among the Polish community in Southern California will be sorely missed.

The Funeral Mass will be at 10:00 AM on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at:

 Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church (Polish Parish)
3424 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90018

 The Celebrant will be Rev. Prof. Sławomir Szkredka


After the Mass, there will be a reception in “Szarotka” next door to the church at:

 Polish Retirement Foundation
3400 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90018


Interment will be with his wife, Karen Owen Petryka, at 11:00 AM on Monday, February 25, 2019 at the Preston Cemetery in Preston, Idaho.


In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the Polish Retirement Foundation, “In Memory of Z. Petryka.”