John Valentine Prytko, 83, passed away on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. John was born September 25, 1936 in New Britain, CT, the son of Polish-American immigrants John and Stella (Lech) Prytko.
John is survived by his wife Ann (Prokop) Prytko. He was the proud father of four sons, John and wife Hanna, Robert and wife Lisa, Chris and wife Cecilia and Joseph and wife Dorota. He is also survived by his ten beloved grandchildren, Veronica, Teresa, Wanda, Syrena, Marya, Karolina, Julian, Helena, Elizabeth and David. He is also survived by his brother Walter and wife Laurie of Manchester and sister-in-law Georgie Ann Prytko of Berlin. He was predeceased by brothers Edward and wife Helen, and Stephen.
John met his wife Annie at a polka dance and were soon married, and have lived happily for 58 years. As a child, John always enjoyed listening to Polish music. He started playing the accordion at the age of 13, when his father purchased a piano-accordion from a traveling salesman and later his father risked his life to save the accordion when their house went up in flames. John went on to attend the HARTT College of Music in the University of Hartford, where he earned a B.S. and M.S. Degree in Music. He went on to have a 33 year career as a music teacher at Timothy Edwards Middle School in South Windsor, CT.
John served in the Connecticut National Guard where he played in the Army Band. He also volunteered his time as a disc jockey, playing a huge variety of polka music every Saturday morning at WWUH Radio for 30 years.
John was the founder and leader of the Johnny Prytko’s Good Times Polka Band, performing all over the East Coast and Canada for 50 years. He arranged all of his own music and wrote several originals for the band. He has a number of cult classic hits such as Hendrick the Hippie, Kimosabee, Long Island Sound, Trumpet Talk, the Yastrimzski Hop, and New Drummer Boy. He was extremely proud of his Polish heritage.
In addition to countless performances, he offered free polka dance lessons at local venues. The dance lessons were very successful, with John and his dance team handing out over 5,000 graduation certificates. John’s love and desire to share his talents was truly extraordinary. In 2007, Governor M. Jodi Rell recognized John for his commitment and dedication to entertaining the citizens of CT.
John’s love of music was embraced at home as well. He taught and encouraged his children to play music, and instilled in them a love for polka music. All of his sons played and recorded with his band throughout the years.
John’s other interests included fishing (though he was never very good at it), walking his beloved dog Brandy, gardening, reading, watching classic cowboy shows and listening to his AM radio talk shows. His favorite teams were the Atlanta Braves and New England Patriots. In his later years, John loved eating at The Hartford Polish Home with his family almost every Sunday! His greatest love of all was his wife Annie and her Polish cooking.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter, 200 Executive Blvd., Suite 4, Southington, CT 06489 or MARC Inc of Manchester, 151 Sheldon Dr., Manchester, CT 06042. A Memorial Service will be planned at a future date.
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