Deceased March 6, 2015

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In Memory

One of our oldest classmates, Ed “Lonnie” Lonczak, passed away on March 6, 2015, in Braintree, Mass. The reason he was our “oldest classmate” was because prior to his coming to Amherst, he “took a European tour”—courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. He served with the Eighth Air Force 91st bomb group as a ball turret gunner on a Flying Fortress. On their ninth mission they were shot down, and he had to parachute out of the plane, not knowing where he would end up. However (his widow shared this with me), he landed on a French farm; the Germans had already taken over much of the area. He suddenly heard people talking, and they were speaking Polish (!) so he responded in Polish—which saved his life. He sustained injuries from the jump (received the Purple Heart) and lived to return home rather than being sent to the German prison camps so many of his gun crew friends had to endure. 

Lonnie came home to Amherst, where he joined DU and played most of the “ball” sports, starring in baseball and becoming a captain. After college he had many fine jobs in some well-known industries, specializing in personnel relations, training and education. He found time to get an M.B.A. from American International College and was an adjunct professor at Northeastern U. His motor never seemed to stop working at high speed!

He leaves his widow, Evelyn, and five children. They were his whole life, and he shared his many interests with them. Ed was an outstanding individual who will be missed by many. Just think that so much was gained by so many because he spoke Polish!

George Hiller ’50

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