Greg Zurawski (1927–1994) was born east of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, into a family of Polish-American musicians. His immigrant grandfather was a fiddler, while his dad, Alexander, played concertina and a double-reeded Hohner harmonica, the instrument Greg favored. Zurawski loved polka music of all kinds, but especially Polish-American music. In the 1960s he began to promote the Old Time Dance Party, a series of weekend polka dances in and around his native Portage County. He was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters, Charity Court No. 47, the Polkaires Club of America, United Polka Association, Central Wisconsin Polka Club, and St. Louis Metro Polka Club. Zurawski was a polka disc jockey on WSPT in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and subsequently wrote a regular column for the Polka News. Mr. Zurawski worked for Haertel Monuments, Barbarosa Construction and Consolidated Papers as a construction worker, and as a custodian at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point until retiring in 1990.
Zurawski’s friendship and collaboration with folklorist Jim Leary resulted in his music collection being donated to the Mills Music Library in 1995 by Zurawski’s widow Shirley Mae Gulden. It includes 1,085 78 rpm discs of domestic and foreign Polish and Polish-American music recordings; approximately 1,400 cassettes of regional live music performances recorded by Zurawski in the 1970s and 1980s; transcription recordings of polka music radio broadcasts; and one 10-inch LP.
Patrons wishing to hear materials from the collection can make an appointment with the Music Library. Collection material may be consulted within the Music Library only.