Long-time KCK accordionist remembered by Polski Day organizers

Accordionist Don Lipovac, who died April 26, played at the 2013 Polski Day celebration. (File photo from 2013 by William Crum)

Polski Day, which will be held Saturday, May 3, will not seem the same this year without accordionist Don Lipovac.

Lipovac has played the accordion at the event for the past eight to 10 years, said Cathy Kolenda-Smith, Polski Day Committee member.   Lipovac, 79, died Saturday, April 26.

“It was very devastating that Don has passed. He was a great musician and he contributed a lot to Polski Days,” Kolenda-Smith said.

Known for playing the accordion at similar festivals in the community, as well as at weddings, showers, and at funerals, Lipovac had his own polka band and also led the Tamburitzans at St. John’s School for many years. He was a graduate of Wyandotte High School who held degrees from the Kansas City Conservatory of Music.

“I knew Don very well,” Kolenda-Smith said. “He definitely did a lot in the polka world.”

Lipovac was so well known in the community that the Rev. Mike May mentioned him in the invocation given at the Unified Government Commission meeting on May 1. He asked everyone “to give thanks to God for all he has brought to us over the years, and pause for a moment to remember him.”

Kolenda-Smith said that Lipovac will be missed. Other musicians have swapped schedules to help out at the Polski Day Festival on Saturday, she said. Some coming in from Omaha, Neb., will help, and the schedules of the different musicians will be changed.

Polski Day will get under way at 11 a.m. Saturday with a parade at 12th and Central to 8th Street, then to Vermont, ending at the All Saints parish at 8th and Vermont in Kansas City, Kan.

There, a festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with entertainment, activities, children’s activities, food, and music. A Mass is planned at the church at 4 p.m.

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