Polewchak recalled as positive, civic-minded
“Jim was a very energetic person who wanted to contribute to his community,” said Deputy City Manager Dave Parsons, who worked with Polewchak on airportrelated issues.
“He wasn’t after notoriety, just really wanted to do his share of the work to make Port Aransas the best place it could be,” Parsons said. “He had an infectious smile that came from being a truly satisfi ed person in his work, marriage, and community.”
Polewchak, 40, was piloting the small plane when it crashed near the town of Midlothian, Parsons said. Just south of Dallas, Midlothian lies in Ellis County.
Shortly after takeoff from a small private airport, the plane’s engine stalled, and the aircraft banked hard to the left, struck a tree, and hit the ground, said Robert White, a public information officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The airport is part of a subdivision called Eagle’s Nest Estates, where numerous pilots live, said David Schrodt, chief of the Midlothian Fire Department. Most of the homes there have airplane hangars behind them, where planes can taxi directly to a nearby runway.
Polewchak’s plane came to a rest about 400 to 500 feet from the nearest home, Schrodt said.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.
Polewchak died at the scene, as did his only passenger, Stephen Vannais, 58, of Mooresville, N.C., authorities said.
Polewchak began living in Port Aransas, aboard a powerboat, in 2005, but he wasn’t a town resident at the time he died, said Randy Hansen, manager of Mustang Beach Airport.
Polewchak lived in Midlothian. Members of the advisory board don’t have to be Port Aransas residents, Hansen said.
An avid pilot, Polewchak owned a hangar at Mustang Beach Airport and continued to visit Port Aransas often after he stopped living here, Hansen said.
Polewchak began serving on the city’s airport advisory board in June 2007. He became chairman in January 2010.
“I think he was a great contributor to Port Aransas and the airport board,” said Bob Pettit, a member of the board.
“We’re all just stunned about (the plane crash),” Pettit said. “It was just very unfortunate. He was a very lively, full-of-life person. … I think he loved being involved in civic efforts. You could just tell from talking to him, he really had his heart in it, 110 percent.”
Polewchak was appointed to the Port Aransas City Council in February 2007 to replace Jerry Watson after Watson died. Polewchak remained in office until the May elections that year. He didn’t seek election to the office.
According to plasticsnews.com, a plastics industry Web site, Polewchak was president of JP Industrial Technologies Inc. in Midlothian. The firm represents eight companies that supply products to the plastics industry, the site said.
In addition to being chairman of the Port Aransas Airport Advisory Board, Polewchak served as a member of the Midway Regional Airport Board of Directors in Midlothian.
Andy Biery, manager of the Midway Regional Airport, said Polewchak was a highly intelligent man.
“One of the best words I could think of for Jim was ‘productive,’ ” Biery said. “For example, if he was between things, and wasn’t busy with something else, he would listen to language tapes.”
Polewchak was fluent in Spanish and German, Biery said.
Growing up in Ohio, Polewchak graduated in 1992 from the Miami of Ohio University in Oxford, where he received bachelor’s degrees in business and aeronautics. In 1995, he received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati.
Polewchak also sponsored a program that helps children in Mexico receive dental care from American doctors, according to obituary information supplied by Spear-Mulqueeny Funeral Home, which is handling funeral arrangements. The funeral home is in Painesville, Ohio.
Mass of Christian burial for Polewchak will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 14, at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, 8560 Mentor Avenue, in Mentor, Ohio.
Polewchak is survived by his wife, Kelly (Armstrong) Polewchak; his father, James Leon Polewchak, of Mentor; his mother, Carla (Jerry) Farone-Hautt of Concord, Ohio; a sister, Dr. Jennifer (Jason) Bellman of Mainville, Ohio; and two nephews, Andrew and Nicholas Bellman.
Friends will be received at the funeral home from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 13, at Spear-Mulqueeny Funeral Home, located at 667 Mentor Ave. in Painesville.
Burial will be in Concord Cemetery in Concord, Ohio.
Biery, who worked closely with Polewchak on Midway Regional Airport matters, said he is handling deliveries of flowers and other expressions of sympathy to Kelly Polewchak. He said items may be mailed to him by addressing mail to: Andy Biery, Midway Regional Airport, 131 Airport Drive, Midlothian, Texas 76065.
Biery said Polewchak’s family has indicated that a memorial might be held later in Port Aransas, but no exact location or date has been established.