PUCINSKI, Roman Conrad
Politician - US Congress, City of Chicago, Democratic Party
(1919 - 2002)

PUCINSKI, Roman Conrad, a Representative from Illinois; born in Buffalo, Erie County, N.Y., May 13, 1919; attended the public schools in Chicago, Ill.; attended Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., 1938-1941; attended John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Ill., 1945-1949; journalist; United States Air Force, 1940-1945; chief investigator, Congressional Special Committee to Conduct an Investigation and Study of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre, 1952; elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-sixth Congress and reelected to the six succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1959-January 3, 1973); was not a candidate for reelection to the Ninety-third Congress in 1972, but was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate; appointed to the National Advisory Council on Vocational Education, 1974-1982; alderman, Chicago, Ill., 1973-1991; died on September 25, 2002, in Chicago, Ill.

From: Congressional Data Base (2007)


WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois General Assembly wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and
friends of Roman C. Pucinski, who passed away on September 25, 2002; and

WHEREAS, Lovingly known as "Pooch" to colleagues and friends, Mr. Pucinski served in the U.S. House from 1959 to 1973 and as a Chicago alderman from 1973 until 1991; throughout his career, he was a key representative for Chicago in Congress and for Chicago's Polish community; and

WHEREAS, Roman Pucinski grew up in a heavily Polish neighborhood that is now Wicker Park; his youth was shaped by his father's abandonment of his mother and siblings when he was a child and by the Depression in his pre-teen years when he wore government-issued shoes; he helped his mother Lidia, later a personality on a radio station he owned, support their family by selling Magic Washer soap to local grocery stores and chocolate to office workers after school; and

WHEREAS, Articulate and never at a loss for words, Mr. Pucinski had an early interest in public affairs; in January 1939, while still a student at Northwestern University, he Chicago Sun-Times; he later attended John Marshall Law School but never took the bar exam because he was too busy covering the 1948 presidential election; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pucinski joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, where he became a captain and served as a bombardier in the first B-29 bomb raid on Tokyo in 1944 and later flew 49 bombing missions over Japan; back with the newspaper after the war, he became a City Hall reporter, a job that exposed him to opportunities in politics; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pucinski was brought to Washington in 1952, where he served one year as a bilingual chief investigator for a special House subcommittee investigating the Katyn Forest massacre of thousands of Polish military officers by the Soviets during the war; and

WHEREAS, Urged by Mayor Richard J. Daley to run for Congress, Mr. Pucinski entered the 11th District race on the City's Far Northwest Side in 1956 and lost to the incumbent, Timothy Sheehan; he ran again in 1958 and won; during his tenure, he was known as the hardest working member of the Illinois congressional delegation; Lyndon B. Johnson, who served with Mr. Pucinski when Mr. Johnson was Senate majority leader, described him as "the workhorse"; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pucinski said his proudest achievement in Congress was sponsoring legislation fostering public education, a field in which he was considered an expert; the legislation gave Chicago schools $30 million in 1970 and guaranteed them $38 million the next year; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pucinski also championed airline safety while in Congress, something for which he was honored many years later; on December 18, 1999, he was cited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for his role as a freshman congressman in 1959 when he pressured the government to require cockpit voice recorders in all airplanes that carry at least six passengers; the FAA awarded him the agency's Silver Medal of Distinguished Service during a ceremony in the Polish Museum of America; and

WHEREAS, After seven terms in Congress, Mr. Pucinski gave up his seat to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Charles Percy in November 1972; after the election, he was appointed alderman of the 41st Ward, where he championed the real people of Chicago, working men and hungry for a fresh start; he served the residents of the City's Far Northwest Side for 18 years as alderman until 1991; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pucinski ran a strong race in the 1977 Democratic mayoral primary, but his main opponent, incumbent Michael Bilandic, who became mayor after Richard J. Daley died in December 1976, won the nomination in a six-way Democratic primary and was elected mayor; during the race, Mr. Pucinski vowed to decentralize the public school system and give each school its own budget; he wanted to combat school segregation by establishing reading centers on racially neutral ground; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pucinski had been the longtime president of the Illinois Division of the Polish American Congress, and he led a number of rallies in Chicago protesting communism in Poland; he supported Poland's Solidarity labor movement, and over the years he helped to raise $1.5 million as the movement gained international prominence; and

WHEREAS, Roman Pucinski's first wife, Aurelia, who preceded him in death in April 1983, was the vice president and general manager of the Pucinskis' family-owned radio station WEDC-AM 1240; he later married Elizabeth Simpson, a dean at the University of Wisconsin and an award-winning poet; she preceded him in death in 1990; and

WHEREAS, Roman Pucinski was the proud father of son, Christopher Pucinski and daughter, Aurelia Pucinski, director of the State Department of Professional Regulation; devoted brother to Wesley Pucinski and Halina Pawl; and grandfather to Rebecca, Elizabeth Anne and James C. Keithley; he was also a dear friend to many in the local, State, and national political arena; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, THE SENATE CONCURRING HEREIN, that we mourn, along with all who knew him, the passing of Roman C. Pucinski of Chicago; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to the family of Roman C. Pucinski with our heartfelt condolences.