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Obituary - Herbert Polak

Herbert Polak died on May 3, 2011 at Sunharbor Manor in Roslyn Heights after a long illness.

He was born on June 20, 1922 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His father owned a button factory that was started by his father. On May 10, 1940, Germany had invaded the Netherlands. On May 14, he escaped with his parents and younger brother on a Dutch fishing trawler and arrived in England two days later. They stayed until September, when they crossed the Atlantic to Halifax, Canada, and finally arrived in New York City on Dec. 7 to start a new life in the United States. He became a U.S. citizen in August 1949.

Herbert’s first job was as a bilingual telephone operator in London. Next, in a supermarket in Montreal, followed by The Netherlands Purchasing Commission when he arrived in NYC. After a brief course in radar at HMCS Stadacoma in Halifax, he served in the Royal Netherlands Navy as a radio technician first class in Curacao, from April 1942 to the fall of 1944. He was then transferred to Quantico, VA, for training with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, in which he served until October 1945.

He then completed his studies for the advanced technology course at RCA Institutes. He taught in the evening at RCA Institutes and worked at RCA Industry Services Laboratory during the day. He received his BEE and MSEE from Brooklyn Polytechnic University and became a registered professional engineer in the State of New York.

Herb was a Red Cross Water Safety instructor, fluent in Dutch, French and German and had working knowledge of Russian. He was an excellent photographer. He belonged to the Netherlands Club of NY, PT Boats, Inc., Nassau Computer Club, Nassau Amateur Radio Club and The Navy League. He was also active in the Hometown Party, helped with radio communications for the Annual Mustang Run and was on the Mineola Pool Board under Mayor Ann Galante.

He leaves behind his wife of 54 years, Mary; children, Juliette Polak (Chuck Simmons) of Harpswell, ME, Ernest Polak (Susan) of Bohemia, NY, and Amy Duffner (Bradley) of Advance, NC; as well as grandchildren, Zane and Jillian Duffner and Keith and Eric Vanderbeck; and his brother-in-law Ernest Hoelle.