Peter Roman Antoniewicz was born February 5, 1936, in Tarnów, a city in southeastern Poland, about 50 miles east of Kraków. The city dates back to the mid-9th century. Peter was born to Michal Antoniewicz (Woysum) and Sophie Brengoz Antoniewicz. Michal was born July 7, 1897, in Kraków, Malopolskie, Poland. Sophie was born in Warsaw, Poland, on January 6, 1905, to Ignaz and Alexandra Reich Brengosz..
Michal and Sophie were married January 21, 1932, in Warsaw. He won a silver and a bronze medal in Equestrianism in the 1928 Summer Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He worked as a horse trainer. He was naturalized in South Carolina in 1952. His naturalization papers state that he was residing in Frankfort before all the family arrived on the USS Shark in 1949. Michal is shown at left.
Peter was the oldest of two boys, his brother, Jan Michael, was a year younger. Jan is shown at right.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. That day, Pete and his brother, Jan, were standing on a small balcony at their house when they heard planes approaching. Despite their tender ages, 3 and 2, the loud explosions from the bombing of the rail yards left a lasting impression. It was clear to their parents that the Germans would overrun western Poland. They decided to leave immediately. Pete’s father was responsible for acquiring horses for the Polish Cavalry and hoped that he could continue to be of service to his country. He had a number of horses that he needed to protect as well as staff. The family had to leave much behind. After the war, a German officer who had been living in the building contacted them and said he had taken some of their household items, hoping they could retrieve them later. Unfortunately, the officer’s home was looted after the war.
Many Poles felt that if they could escape to a neutral country such as Romania or Hungary (neither had declared war on Poland), they could eventually get to France and England and join the Allies. The family loaded up their belongings in a horse-drawn wagon and headed to Hungary. The wagon also included Sophie’s sister, Celá, who was visiting at the time. A young nanny, Stella, wished to go with them. Her parents gave their permission. The Russians, as part of their pact with Germany, were advancing on the eastern front. Going south was the family’s only possible choice. During their trip, they were subjected to strafing by German planes. Jan remembers being pushed under the wagon by his father and Pete recalls seeking shelter in the nearby woods. They arrived at a wealthy Hungarian estate that Michal thought would help with the valuable horses. However, the owner slipped out one night with his family. Before leaving he offered the family his car and his truck; however neither were able to be driven. A Hungarian anti-aircraft unit came by and demanded that the car and truck be turned over to them. Fortunately Michal out-ranked the senior officer, and succeeded in getting repairs to the car in exchange for the truck. They joined the convoy headed for Budapest, 240 miles away. Sophie is shown at left.
Another harrowing encounter on the trip was with Ukrainian partisans attempting to steal possessions from Polish refugees. They fired on the convoy. The boys and Sophie were pressed against the floorboard; fortunately, the Ukrainians were driven off by the men in the convoy. Surreally, Jan recalls stopping for ice cream in a small mountain village. When they arrived at the Hungarian border, their weapons and car were confiscated. A very poignant moment occurred there. Michal had his sons pause at the border and look back to their homeland. He said to them, “ This could be your last view of Poland.”
A little background will help understand what the family encountered in Hungary. Here is a quote from The Health Affairs of Polish Refugees in Hungary During World War II, 1939–1945 by Karoly Kapronczay, 1976.
“By the middle of September 1939, Poland was practically crushed and only the southern regions, the neighborhood of the Polish-Hungarian and the Polish-Romanian frontier remained under Polish control. The Polish Army and the Government retreated in this direction. Although a valid military alliance existed between Poland and Romania, the Romanian government had the Polish military and civilian refugees interned and banned the Polish emigration from all political activities. On the Hungarian frontier, the first group of refugee Poles was registered on 10 September, and in the next days they were followed by tens of thousands. The Hungarian government (headed by Pál Teleki) were not prepared for such an invasion. At first, means had to be found for their maintenance and accommodation to be provided. The separation of civilians from the military and their registration was completed on the frontier in accordance with the existing Hungarian laws. The majority of the refugees arrived in closed military formations; they were regarded as military prisoners, their disarmament, accommodation in camps, and their maintenance formed the task of the 21st Department of the Ministry of Defense.’
“The treatment of the civilian refugees needed a separate organization. By its nature their case fell under the authority of the Aliens' Department of the Ministry of the Interior (Külföldieket Ellenőrző Országos Központi Hatóság, KEOKH), but due to the political nature of the case and because of the great number of the refugees, Teleki, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of the Interior, Ferenc Keresztes-Fischcr, a man known for his lack of sympathy with nazism, had no intention to treat the refugee question as a mere police affair. Ingeniously, they decided to treat the case as a social one and placed it under the charge of the IXth (Social and Welfare) Department of the Ministry of the Interior. This department— headed by Dr. József Antall, who was also appointed special commissioner for refugees— had to provide for the basic needs of the refugees and established camps for this purpose. Dr. Antall was a man of liberal and democratic convictions, and an opponent of Nazi Germany; in organizing the affairs of the Polish refugees, he was guided by sincere humanistic feelings as well as by political considerations, and his direction consciously left the way open for anti-fascist activities. In this respect it is impossible not to mention the important role of the Minister of the Interior: the person and policies of Ferenc Keresztes-Fischer are by no means unequivocal, but it is obvious that without his knowledge and acquiescence there could have been no pro-Polish, anti-Nazi activity going on in the Ministry led by him.”
The Antoniewicz family and other refugees were interned in a number of different camps around Budapest. From 1939–1940, they lived with different families around Lake Balaton, a large lake south of Budapest. They remember an incident during that winter when their father helped distract security guards so two Polish pilots could escape. Jan and Pete recall celebrating Wigilia, the traditional Polish Christmas Eve vigil supper. Lighted candles were attached to the tree. In the midst of such terror, this moment of peace has remained in the memories of both boys, despite their very young ages at the time, two and three.
During 1940–1941, they resided in southern Hungary. They remember skating and simple skiing. They were moved to Rákoscsaba, a small village about 12 miles due east of Budapest center which had a military camp. They lived in old barracks. Stella, the nanny, met a Polish refugee and they were married there. Stella and her husband, like many of their friends and acquaintances, were swept away in the flotsam of the tides of war.
Pete and Jan started kindergarten in Rákoscsaba. However, their education was interrupted by both boys contracting scarlet fever. They were sent to an isolation ward at a hospital in Budapest. Lab tests revealed that Pete had an associated kidney infection and was moved to a special ward. Jan was released. Eventually Pete was released, but in the meantime the family had been moved to Dömsöd, on the Danube, 30 km south of Budapest.
In the spring, Pete had to return to the hospital since his kidney infection returned. The doctors were unable to cure him and sent him home after instructing his family that he would likely decline further and would likely die. When asked if there was anything they could do, the doctor remarked, “Well, some believe a diet limited to apples and no water will help.” Desperate, Pete’s parents put him on that regimen for weeks and, to their delighted surprise, he recovered. Contrary to most others on severely restricted diets, Pete loved apples for the remainder of his life.
In Dómsód, Michal was put to work on flood control. In the early part of their internment Michal had to check in with the authorities every day. Later that requirement was relaxed and the family heads were checked every tenth day when they received their daily allowances. The Hungarian-Polish Refugee Commission and the Hungarian Red Cross provided financial support, clothing, and health services for the refugees. Each male refugee in a camp received a daily allowance, depending on his qualifications and the size of his family. According to the Circular Decree on Refugees (No. 78/1940), grown-up persons and children above the age of 12 received one pengő daily, children under 12 received 1.50 pengős. (The 1941 exchange rate was 1 $US=5 pengős: by 1944, it was 1 $US=33 pengős and in 1945 1 $US=8200 pengős.) Those who did not live in housing provided by the camp were refunded the cost of rent. Some intellectuals were placed on a special ministerial list and received 4 P daily. In 1943, this decree was modified: in the camps, men with a family received 5 P, singles 3 P, with 4 P added after each child. The 1940 decree allowed the refugees to enter employment, but in that case, only the non-working members of the family received the grant. Free health services were to be provided.
They were in Dómsód from 1942-44. The kids were fairly free to move around. They made friends with three Hungarian boys. The group was referred to as the “five devils.” There were many adventures during the winters in the camps. They skated on frozen lakes and watched ice being harvested and stored in sawdust for summer. They watched some harvest poppies, to secretly create opium. They would sometimes be given the seeds to eat, washed and free of opium. Their parents did not appreciate the boys renting a boat and adventuring out on the dangerous Danube. Jan remembers visiting the dentist and experiencing his use of a foot drill.
There was a Catholic church in the town and Pete was an altar boy. The town also had a small movie house.
The boys were put in school, Pete being in the first grade. He was quickly moved to 2nd grade. Jan was placed in 1st grade.
There were newspapers available; however, they were highly redacted. Some of the men, including Michal, maintained a secret situation room where they had a map that displayed the progress of the US, British, and Russian forces. Jan does not recall a radio, but he was sure there were hidden radios monitoring stations in the west.
The German invasion of Hungary in March 1944, brought about a complete change in the situation of the Polish refugees. The Hungarian Ministry of the Interior officially ceased supporting them, and all civilian and military camps were placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense. The Polish emigrants found themselves in a dangerous situation both politically and materially. The German authorities immediately banned all Polish organizations, arrested the leaders of the Polish Civilian Committee, and instructed the Ministry of Defense to ban the free movement of the Polish doctors.
In April, the Allies began their first bombing of Budapest. The Americans had dropped leaflets on the city warning civilians of the impending attacks. The bombings continued with British bombing at night and Americans during the day. Pete and Jan recall standing outside and watching the B-17s and B-24s fly over while being attacked by the Luftwaffe. Their home was at the perimeter of the city. That was the closest the fighters would come, fearing damage from anti-aircraft artillery protecting the city. They saw bombers explode and airman parachute to safety. They recall being told of airmen trying to hide near their place; they attempted to find the place, but were told the airmen had been captured. The family dug a slit trench near the house as a bomb shelter.
Michal and other military men were soon taken away. Michal was placed in a POW camp for officers, south of Berlin. A Jewish Polish colonel with a wooden arm who played bridge with the family was sent to Dachau. Sophie and the two boys were forced to move south into Austria. They moved in wagons and the trip was arduous. Jan recalls a particularly difficult crossing on a ferry and the kind help of a German officer. They observed trains being strafed by P-51 fighters. They found protection in the train station.
On the trip south, they stopped in small villages. Sophie and other refugees believed that they would be exterminated once they arrived in Austria. For the latter part of the trip they were moved in closed boxcars. Thankfully they were destined for a forced labor camp. Jan does not recall the name of the town . Sophie was required to work as a janitor while her sister, Celá, worked in a ball-bearing factory that was hidden inside a mountain for protection. The boys were spared labor because they were under nine. Ball bearings were critical and the Allies subjected known factories to withering attacks.
Both boys recall the wood-powered cars of WWII. Only the military had gasoline. The wood gas generators were quite bulky. There was even a Volkswagen version.
They were housed in barracks near a concentration camp. Jan recalls seeing an SS officer shoot an inmate who could not get up from his stretcher. A particularly scary moment occurred when the boys heard planes overhead and rushed out of their barracks and were surprised when the planes started strafing the area. Both ran, however Pete fell but miraculously he was not hit.
They were moved again to another camp and were placed behind fences. Celá and Sophie worked until spring 1945. One morning they woke to find no guards.There was much celebration when told the war was over. The boys remember throwing rocks at a picture of Hitler that was near the entrance to the camp. The camp elected a spokesman. It was decided that they should go to the factory and take items that could be of use. Since they were aware that the Russians were approaching from the east, they were quite surprised when a group of black US soldiers appeared at the camp. This was the boys’ first experience with black people.
There was a small window of opportunity for the family to be liberated by the Americans. They were offered transportation in a US Army truck by these soldiers. Pete’s mother knew that it would require a hazardous crossing of the river and the driver was drunk. She concluded it would not be safe for the children and decided to wait. Sadly the Russians arrived before the Americans could return.
They were returned to Poland. Sophie, being from Warsaw, returned there to look for her family. She found only two brothers alive. She had come from a family of eleven children. The other brothers were believed to have died in the uprising there. Sophie next took the family to Kraków to find Michal’s sister. The sister lived in a house owned by Sophie’s aunt. The family was invited to live with them. One of the aunts taught music and the other was a secretary in a medical school. Upon their return to Poland, Pete and Jan realized how much of their Polish language they had lost. So many years speaking Hungarian and German had exacted a toll. Their great-aunt demanded that they behave in a very proper way and taught them appropriate etiquette. They were also taken to the museums. Kraków had been spared being bombed.
The boys were enrolled in a Franciscan school. One day, three Russians walked into the school, removed the teacher, took away their books and replaced them with pro-Russian propaganda textbooks. They had not been in school since the Germans invaded Hungary. Sophie read to them each night and tried to provide some home schooling. Reading each night with their parents had been a regular activity after they came to Hungary. Pete became an altar boy in the large Kraków cathedral. They lived on Karmelica street, four or five blocks from the square.
While in the POW camp, Pete’s father devised a very risky plan to escape from being returned to Russian-controlled Poland. He decided that, since he spoke perfect French, he might be able to join the French soldiers in the camp. If successful, he would be returned to France rather than Poland where his fate with the Russians was at best uncertain. Working with others in the camp, he secured the passport of a dead French prisoner and was able to replace the photo and information. He also acquired some forged papers. The ruse worked and he was put on a train for France. After crossing into the US sector, he slipped off the train, and joined the US Army camp. There was a tense moment when a soldier, apparently familiar with the French unit, pointed out that the unit had already been shipped out. Michal, ever quick on his feet, countered that he had escaped and was not there when his unit left. He and Sophie had decided before separating that they would each try to move west after the war in the hopes that they could be reunited.
Since Michal also spoke fluent English, the US Army found him useful, initially for guard duty as a replacement for American soldiers who were returned to the US. He was still classified as military. He and other ex-POWs wore clothing that was dyed blue to appear as a uniform.
Once the war ended, Michal enlisted the help of a Polish colonel who was returning to Poland, to carry a message to his sister in Kraków and he learned that Sophie and the kids were there. He now launched in earnest an ambitious plan to get them out. A sad footnote here: Following the colonel’s return, he disappeared, never to be seen again. The family concluded that since the colonel had been a part of the military that had suppressed a Communist uprising before the war, the Russian had executed him,
Somehow Michal got access to medical alcohol, a highly valued item. He was able to trade this for the necessary papers to enable Sophie and the boys to get out of Poland. The plan was to provide papers showing that Sophie was a secretary for the US Army who had returned to Kraków to retrieve her two boys. He was unable to get papers for his sister. The papers were sent to Kraków, but they were stolen. Whoever stole the papers replaced them with fake copies. Sophie recognized the risk that these papers provided; however, she decided this was likely their last chance to reunite the family. They boarded a train to Prague in late 1946. They were very concerned as to how the papers would be received during the trip. Fortunately a drunken Russian colonel shared their compartment on the train. Having two boys of his own, he took a shine to Pete and Jan. Officials regularly came through the train checking papers. The colonel objected to their bothering him and asked that they leave the compartment. The family made it through. A doctor picked them up in a car to take them to the US side. There were ten people in the car, however only six sets of papers. Fortunately, two bottles of vodka from the driver resulted in their being waved through the Russian checkpoint. There was a problem with the American authorities who recognized that the papers were fake. Fortunately, a soldier objected to the hassling of someone trying to escape from the Russians. In Munich they were reunited with their father.
They lived in a number of camps around Munich. One was a military camp with barracks for housing. They later moved to a “Villa” near Stuttgart and finally to Offenbach, a suburb of Frankfurt. At right is a picture taken in Mannheim in 1946. Sophie, Pete and Jan are at right. A friend of Sophie is at left end.
Their next goal was to come to America. They applied for permission to emigrate. It was necessary to have a sponsor. They applied to the Catholic-sponsored War Relief Services. Fortunately in Salisbury, NC, there was a priest who worked to help families seeking residency. He enlisted the aid of a Salisbury businessman, Dan Miller Nicholas. With his sponsorship they were issued visas and they left for New York on the SS Marine Shark. They arrived in New York Harbor on a foggy February 2, 1949. The ship was chartered to the United States Lines and was on her last New York-Naples-New York voyage. Michal took the boys on deck to show them the Statue of Liberty rising majestically above the fog. They were cleared through customs and sent to Grand Central Station.
From New York City they traveled to Salisbury, NC, to start their new life. However, they were first settled in a farm house on the Pee Dee River near Bennettsville, SC, about 100 miles south of Salisbury. Mr. Nicholas enrolled the boys in a two-room school house. Pete was put in the 4-6 grades. Both boys were one year behind. Mr. Nicholas helped Michal secure a job. They next moved to Llangollen Farms in Upperville, VA, about 100 miles west of Washington, DC. The estate was owned by Mary Elizabeth Whitney Person Tippett, ex-wife of John Hay “Jock” Whitney, a member of the extremely wealthy Whitney family of New York. The Whitneys had a long history of involvement with thoroughbred horse racing. Michal trained her show and race horses. The boys had a great time roaming the area on their new bikes.
Below is a picture of the family at Christmas in 1947.
Unfortunately, after enduring so much to get to America, Sophie developed breast cancer shortly after their arrival in 1949. It was necessary for her to have radical surgery. Michal now had a job with the US Olympic Team that required him to travel. In order to provide time for Sophie to recover from her surgery, Pete and Jan were placed in a Catholic school for orphans in Raleigh, NC. They were there for several months. Pete said it was a very rigidly run school and they learned a lot of discipline while there. They were required to make their beds, clean their area, and complete all their school assignments. Pete said it was good training for college.
After two months, Michal, with the help of Dan Nicholas, secured a position in the feed business in Salisbury which enabled him to move the boys home. Sadly Sophie died during the summer of 1953. She was buried in Forest Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Lexington, NC, in a plot donated by Mr. Nicholas.
In 1968, Mr. Nicholas later gave 330 acres to the City of Salisbury to erect a park which today is a popular recreational area.
Pete was naturalized December 6, 1955 in Greensboro, NC, in US District Court. He was living in Salisbury, NC at the time. His signature on the petition is shown below.
Pete graduated in 1955 from Boyden High School in Salisbury. While there he participated in many activities, including wrestling, track, and football. Pictures from his yearbook are included in the gallery at the end of this entry. Jan graduated in 1956 and was persuaded to go to Belmont Abbey College, graduating in 1960. He later served in Korea.
Following high school graduation, Pete attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He studied engineering physics. His first summer after his freshman year was spent working for the Colonial Steel Company, fabricating steel for construction. He graduated in 1959 and remained there for a master’s degree. He was there for two years before transferring to Purdue University to seek a PhD in physics.
Pete had met Susan Sanderlin on a blind date. She was an art student from Kitty Hawk, NC and was studying at Meredith College.
Pete and Susan Sanderlin were married on August 20, 1961, in Dare, North Carolina.
Pete was very prolific during his graduate school days at Purdue. He produced a number of papers with his supervisor, Professor Sergio Rodriguez (at left). These included their paper, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in Metals Using Helicons in 1965. That same year they also published, Interaction of Helicons with Longitudinal Plasma Waves in Solids.
Pete was awarded a PhD in 1965. His dissertation was titled, Interaction of Helicons With Other Collective Excitations in Solids.
In June 1974, Pete published an important paper, Surface-Induced Dipole Moments of Adsorbed Atoms, Phys. Rev. Lett. 32, 1424.
Career at University of Texas
During his last year of graduate school, Pete attended the Banff Summer Institute on “Quantum Transport Theory” held in Banff, Alberta, Canada. There he met Dave Ross, another participant, a post-doctoral student at the University of Illinois. Coincidentally, both would later join the University of Texas Physics Department and raise their families separated by only a few blocks. Several photos from Banff are included at the end of this page. As we can see from the program excerpt provided by Dave, Pete took his wife Susan and 2-year-old son Andy and they stayed in town.. One of the lecturers at the conference was Rudolph Peirles, Oxford Professor, who three years later, would be knighted for his contributions to the development of the atomic bomb.
Pete Antoniewicz has always been an exceptionally dedicated member of the UT Physics Department. During his early period on the faculty he was a productive researcher in the Condensed Matter Group, providing support for a number of the experimentalists. They relied on him for advice in planning and in interpreting their experiments. He always attended both the Condensed Matter Seminars and the Department Colloquiums. His unassuming manner prevented him from speaking out in the group, however, he often provided important advice and criticism to the speaker after the presentation.
In 1969, Pete was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to spend a year in So Carlos, Brazil. He took the family on this sabbatical. He worked with Professor Roberto Lobo in the Department of Physics in the School of Engineering, University of São Paulo at São Carlos. This collaboration resulted in the paper, Energy Spectrum of a Dilute Hard-Sphere Bose Gas, R. Lobo and P. R. Antoniewicz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 24, 1168 – Published 25 May 1970.
Antoniewicz’s solo authored paper in Phys. Rev B 21, 3811 (1980) entitled A Model for Electron and Photon Stimulate Desorption, was cited 387 times. Another paper was cited 69 times. These are very good citations for his area of research.
Pete served as Chair of the Undergraduate Committee and as the Undergraduate Advisor for many years. In this role he organized course offerings, chaired meetings to assign faculty to classes and worked with the graduate secretary to assign TAs to laboratories, classes and grading positions. This required every semester a responsible person who was actively engaged for weeks before and after the beginning of each semester and summer session. Pete was always there. He took this task seriously and, though he preferred to avoid confrontation, he somehow was able, semester after semester, and year after year, to get the job done with few feathers being ruffled. I truly admired his dedication to his job. He always put it first. He was also willing to seek help for situations that he was having problems with. Faculty and students especially appreciated his including them in decisions that would affect them.
Pete agreed to be responsible for the Physical Sciences Course. This class involved TAs in a laboratory situation; however, they were required to lecture regularly. Pete knew that all graduate students were not capable of handling this responsibility. He knew that the class had a highly visible position in the college, since non-major students made up its large clientele. Every semester, he fought hard to assign the appropriate students to this important task, not an easy job since these were the senior grad students, and they were in high demand as lab instructors and graders by the faculty.
Another important contribution he made to the department was advising undergraduate students. While the department had advisors available during orientation each semester, it was necessary to have someone generally available at all times to see students with problems. Most of this load was non-majors taking service courses, a group that needed a faculty member with experience and knowledge generally not known to those advising only majors. Pete again filled that need. He was always in his office and willing to see students. The department secretaries relied on him and appreciated his availability.
Pete often taught two courses during the semester, either a lecture and a lab or two lectures.
Pete was also part of a group that established and administered the Saturday Teachers Workshop. This was a program that invited high school physics teachers and their physics students to come to campus, have pastries and orange juice, and attend three lectures given by physics faculty. The teachers often participated in an afternoon workshop where they created a physics demo or experiment they could take back to use in their classes. The workshops occurred twice a year. Pete, on a number of occasions, gave a popular talk on “The Physics of Toys.” Pete could always be counted on to participate in the planning of these workshops and he was always present on Saturdays to chat with the teachers and their students and to help with clean up. The program received a College of Natural Sciences Outreach Award.
Pete also was the longtime department representative to the Kuehne Library. With decreasing funds and shrinking storage space, Pete had to help the librarian make difficult decisions related to journals and book purchases.
Pete took his teaching seriously and spent much time preparing his lectures. His quiet and subdued personality did not make it easy for him to be in front of a large class. However, his students did appreciate his knowledge of the material, his preparation, his availability, his fairness, his promptness in returning tests and his problem sessions. Students knew he wished them to succeed.
The Scholarship Committee required faculty who had knowledge of our students. Peter was a long-time member because of his position as undergraduate advisor and his interest in helping our students.
The department offered advanced placement exams to students. These exams were created by Pete and Mel Oakes. They were responsible for grading and/or assigning credit several times a year.
Chris Sneden, astronomy professor and friend of Pete’s, writes of their high school teaching “excellent adventure.’
“Pete Antoniewicz and I taught a ‘zero hour’ physics course in (I believe) the academic year 1990–91. It began when he and I made an appointment with the McCallum High School principal to express our serious concerns about the competence of their physics instructor. She readily agreed with our worries and simply proposed to address this problem by having us team-teach the course. Served us right to complain! We felt that we had to agree, so we taught fall and spring semesters in the so-called zero hour.
I learned as much physics as did the students. We tried all sorts of pragmatic things to liven up the class. For example, I remember that Pete asked the students to calculate how much rubber a car tire leaves on the road per mile. You have to have more imagination and common sense than physics knowledge to answer that one. Another one was to show really simply how a spherically-curved mirror would not bring light rays to a focus by going to HEB and getting poster paper to draw on. The students really deserve some credit here, for coming early to McCallum and sticking with us the whole year.
Thankfully we did not have to repeat our work the next year, as McCallum hired a better physics teacher. I was very happy to learn from Pete about teaching good solid physics at the introductory level. His work at McCallum did not go unnoticed, as he and I were given a couple of plaques in recognition. I especially liked the "Oak Tree Award" from Austin City Council of PTAs.”
Among Pete’s many interests was tennis. Tennis was, however, more than an interes;, it was a passion. For many years, he participated in various tennis ladders, challenging other players to matches in order to climb the ladder. He also played twice weekly with a group of colleagues and friends at Austin High School. More... He was a very competent player, quick on the court and solid in his groundstrokes. Following his diagnosis and the prospects of his inevitable rounds of debilitating chemical therapy, many thought his tennis days were over, Pete did not. Despite the side effects that usually ground so many, Pete came to the courts, adjusted his games and remained competitive until only a few weeks before his death. Pete’s son, Adam, would join the group when in town. They are shown at right.
Michal Antoniewicz died on December 1, 1989, at the age of 92. His instincts, his decision making under intense pressure, his patience, his courage and his intelligence all contributed to his long life. Rare indeed, was he among men. He saved himself and his family from circumstances that consumed so many others. His descendants owe him and Sophie their very existence. May they honor and never forget them.
In 2008, Pete, Susan, Jan and his wife Mary Etta returned to Poland to donate their father’s Olympic Medals to the Polish Equestrian Federation.
“His events included: 17th May - 12th August 1928 - Michal Antoniewicz-Woysym, Kazimierz Gzowski, Kazimierz Szosland were ranked 2nd in Show Jumping in Nations Cup during Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands
“17th May - 12th August 1928 - Michal Antoniewicz-Woysym, Karol Rómml, Józef Trenkwald were ranked 3rd in Eventing during Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands.”
Pete and Susan’s family included; son, Andrew; daughter Anna and husband Alphonso and their two children Arianna and Aiden; and son, Adam, and wife Yi. Pete’s brother, Jan Antoniewicz and wife Mary Etta live in Burlington, NC.
Pete died June 14, 2015, after a heroic three-year battle with cancer. His memorial service was held on June 18, 2015, at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. His son, Adam and his friend and colleague, Mel Oakes, gave eulogies. They are included at the end of this entry. A gallery of pictures follows the eulogies.
Acknowledgements: It would have been impossible to write the early history shared here without the cooperation of Pete and his brother Jan. Pete spent nearly two hours answering my questions, despite being confined to his hospital bed. Jan agreed to an interview that lasted nearly three hours. Pete’s son, Adam, kindly made available an early interview he did with Pete and Jan. He also facilitated the interviews, shared pictures, and helped get the answers to questions.
Eulogy delivered by Adam Antoniewicz, son.
Dad is a man of few words. In fact, the first word that people say when they think of dad is QUIET. That doesn’t mean that he has nothing to say, it’s actually quite the opposite. He just always communicated via ways other than words. In honor of Dad, I’m going to keep this short. (that’s probably good for the both of us)
The one word I think of when thinking of Dad is LOVE. Not love in the happily ever after, or love as an emotion that you feel. It’s deeper. The best definition of Love I have read is from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
1 Corinthians 13:
4, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5, It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7, It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This passage is always read at weddings as encouragement for new couples. I am so proud of my dad that we are reading it at his memorial as a testament to how he lived.
I’ll go through each line to show you how dad loved us:
Love is patient. Dad would spend time teaching us to read or math problems as children (never trying to hurry the lesson)
Love is kind. Dad would drive us across the country to North Carolina for 20 hours without asking anyone else to share the driving responsibilities
Love does not envy. Dad would never ‘wish he had other kids’, he never discouraged us even if he didn’t understand our choices
Love does not boast, it is not proud. Dad had a Fulbright fellowship, but I didn’t find out until we were working on his obituary.
Love does not dishonor others. Dad would set a clear line for us kids; especially ‘never ever disrespect your mother’
Love is not self-seeking. Dad would be the family disciplinarian for the kids despite it not being part of his calm, quiet nature. He played the role he needed to play in our family.
Love is not easily angered. Anna told a story about how, when she did something really wrong. Mom and Dad were angry with her, and she retaliated by being mad at them. She knew deep down she was wrong. Dad responded by crying in front of her to show how much he loved her, and how showing emotion is so much more powerful than being angry. She never forgot that lesson.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Dad would encourage not correct (especially when it comes to tennis) there are times to encourage, like after a loss, and times to correct, when you are willing to receive coaching after you calm down.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Dad would teach us to do our best no matter what. When I was in 5th grade, a fellow student named Sally told me about getting $20 for each A. Dad told me that the reward was in doing our best without any monetary reward. Doing your best is reward enough.
Love always protects. Dad volunteered to teach a zero-hour Physics class at A.N. McCallum High School to make sure my classmates and I had proper physics instruction
Love always trusts, always hopes. Dad would NEVER judge us. No matter what path we chose to take, failures we experienced (real or imaginary). He trusted us to do the best for us, and he would support us.
Love always perseveres. Whether it was camps in WWII growing up, Scarlet Fever, or when Dad endured cancer for 35 months to maximize his time with Mom and us after given a diagnosis of 14 months.
Our dad for 79 years on this planet made others feel loved. He made our family feel loved. As a child, there is not much more you can ask for.
Maya Angelou once said: “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you feel.”
We may have forgotten a few things our dad has said
We have forgotten a few things our dad has done
But we will NEVER forget how our dad made us feel. And that is Loved.
Thank you, Dad. We will miss you so much.
Eulogy delivered by Mel Oakes, Colleague and Friend
We are here today to honor our friend Pete Antoniewicz. This would be an easy task for anyone who knew this gentle and kind man. I just hope he is out of earshot, since the last thing he would enjoy is someone praising him in a public place.
Pete was a valued colleague of mine and of others here today from the UT Physics Department. The life of Pete and his brother Jan, reads like a novel. As Pete said the last day I saw him, "There were so many twists, turns, and forks in my road, any single variation would have led to a greatly different end result." Well, I agree with his assessment; however one thing is certain, whatever he did with his life, it would have been done with integrity, sincerity and kindness; it would have utilized his extraordinary intelligence and his insatiable curiosity; and he would have been surrounded by family and friends who cared deeply for him.
Pete's professional interest was theoretical condensed matter physics and his publications include a number of important and highly cited papers. Even as a graduate student at Purdue, he was able to write a number of papers. Arriving at UT in 1967, he collaborated with most of the faculty in the condensed matter group. There are papers with Leonard Kleinman, Frits DeWette, Jim Erskine, David Gavenda, Jim Thompson, and Bill McCormick. A molecule-surface phenomenon that Pete suggested and studied was referred to in the literature as the Antoniewicz "bounce." A number of the faculty mentioned are experimental physicists. Pete liked to stay close to phenomena that were currently being studied in the laboratory. Pete was awarded a Fulbright for a sabbatical in San Carlos, Brazil. He took the family with him.
Pete could always be found at the Department Colloquium on Wednesday afternoons. His attendance record likely dwarfs all others. He always found something interesting in the talks, regardless of how far it was from his field.
Pete's later academic career focused on teaching and department matters, especially undergraduate administration. For many years, he chaired the undergraduate affairs committee. As chair of the committee charged with assigning teaching faculty, overseeing degree requirements, and advising students, Pete carried out these tasks, semester after semester and year after year in a very responsible way. Each semester, he spent untold hours making sure that the undergraduate physics program would run smoothly. He was always available for advising students. Pete was never autocratic in his decisions; he sought the advice of those involved and those he thought could help make things better. He served on the scholarship committee; my only complaint there was that he invariably recommended that my suggested awards be larger, never smaller.
As we all know, Pete had a quiet demeanor; however never were the poet's words, "still waters run deep," more appropriate than in Pete's case. Pete's humble nature made him reluctant to stand out in a large group; however, in a small setting he revealed his deep concerns, his creative thinking, and his willingness to help with any task. While never flashy in the classroom, students were appreciative of his extensive preparation, his concern for their success, and his sound knowledge of the material. I was especially impressed with his ability to create very clever and instructive test questions.
Pete and Chris Snedon were finessed into teaching high school physics at McCallum. At a meeting with the principal, where they expressed concern over the quality of the physics being taught, they were told the solution was simple. They should teach the class—which they did, early in the morning, for a year.
Pete loved books. He could often be found upstairs in the old Co-op's vast scientific book section. He had quite a collection. I recall once his chiding Susan for having perfectly good dresses hanging in her closet while out shopping for another one. I told him he could be a good example for her by vowing not to buy another book until he had read the last one he bought. He acknowledged the soundness of my argument, but had no interest in becoming a "reformed" book collector.
Pete also loved problem solving. He watched regularly "The Mythbusters." I watched for a while; howeve, I could always count on Pete to give me his take on the episode. Since his account was better than the actual show, I quit watching. They have lost a critical viewer.
Pete had many interests; however, one, tennis, rose to the level of a passion. He loved the game and for many years played in a number of venues. He participated in a tennis ladder and he played with our group twice each week at Austin High School. Many of those he played with are here today. Pete was very competitive on the courts. Never happy to just rally and practice, he wanted there to be a winner and it was always clear whom he had in mind. He was always gracious to the loser. I spoke earlier about the Antoniewicz bounce. Well, there was also on the courts, the Antoniewicz "bounce," or, more accurately, the Antoniewicz "non-bounce," a frustrating, very low shot that was always followed by phrases from opponents that I can not repeat in a house of worship.
I think we learned a lot about Pete from his tennis over the last three years. He first told me of his diagnosis of cancer one morning on the tennis courts. He told me they had given him about 18 months and that he would soon start chemotherapy. I asked if he wished to be taken off the list for a while. His answer, "Not until I just can't do it anymore. I prefer being here to sitting at home thinking about it." Well, he was a man of his word, and he faced this trial with dignity and courage. He ignored the prognosis and doubled his remaining time, playing tennis until a few weeks before he left us. Despite his swollen fingers and feet, neuropathy, his shortness of breath and his other problems, he was there giving it his all. I can recall only once that he asked to sit for a moment before continuing. He arranged his chemo treatments to allow him a number of non-tennis days to recover and to maximize the number of days he could play. Susan said that as he lay in the bed in the hospital, he told her his goal was to return to the courts. Sadly, it was not to be. While his body is not there on the courts, his spirit will be.
This past Tuesday the tennis group sat together with Adam and Pancho and shared their experiences, admiration and impressions of Pete. One thing was crystal clear, everyone knew the same man. What you and everyone else got was the genuine Pete; he didn't play games with you. The group concluded that we were privileged to know a very special man and, that faced with a similar challenge, we likely would fall short, but we had witnessed what the best could do.
Pete's love for Susan and his family was foremost in his life. He was always ready to talk about their accomplishments and activities. He spoke with affection, admiration and was never critical. Andy, Anna, and Adam did not get to pick their father, however I am sure they know they could not have done better. Susan did get to choose her life mate and she made the right choice for all of us.
Pete will live on in our minds and in our hearts. Both are larger because we knew him.
Antoniewicz Photo Album