Barbara T. Miegon, 66, businesswoman and co-host of local Polish radio show

July 09, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Barbara T. Miegon, whose Fells Point business linked immigrants to their native Poland, died Monday of a heart attack at Sinai Hospital.

The popular co-host of a Polish radio show, she was 66 and a longtime resident of Northwest Baltimore.

Mrs. Miegon had retired recently as president and owner of the B. T. Miegon Agency in the 1700 block of Eastern Ave. The business provided translation, money transfers and other services to Polish immigrants and Polish-Americans with relatives or business in Poland. Until a year ago, the agency also booked package tours to Poland.

In 1972, she bought the business from Mieczyslaw Kniejski, who had established it in 1938.

"Her death is a great loss for our community. She was one of the key women in the Baltimore Polish community," said U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

"She was the voice of Poland, especially during the dark days of Solidarity," said Senator Mikulski, a Baltimore Democrat.

Solidarity, founded in 1980, became the first independent labor union in a Soviet bloc country. It was forcibly suppressed by the Polish government in December 1981, re-emerged in 1989 and eventually its leaders dominated the national government.

"She was able to help get packages for families and loved ones in Poland and, in return, was able to get a lot of news back. She really was our communication link to Poland and was like her own little Voice of America," the senator said. "Barbara was really a Polish treasure here and will be greatly missed."

Mrs. Miegon and her husband, Jerzy Miegon, whom she married in 1958, were co-hosts of "Echoes of Poland," a weekly show that has aired on WBMD radio since 1972. She made her final broadcast Sunday morning.

"The show featured Polish music, news from Poland and local news of the Baltimore Polish community and events," said Clark N. West, WBMD station manager. "It was very popular."

Since 1989, Mrs. Miegon had been vice chairman of the Katyn Memorial Committee and helped lead the effort to build a memorial to the several thousand Polish soldiers who were slaughtered in 1940 at Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia, by the Soviet political police.

Alfred Wisniewski, committee chairman, expressed sadness that Mrs. Miegon did not live to see completion of the $1 million bronze monument that is scheduled to be dedicated next year at President and Aliceanna streets.

"She was a dedicated member of the Polish Heritage Association. You name a committee and she was on it," said Stanley A. Ciesielski, the organization's president.

"Because of the political turmoil in Poland during the 1980s, she helped found the Maryland Action for Poland and we sent thousands and thousands of packages to Poland," he said.

"I think it was her living in Poland during World War II and witnessing the German invasion and persecution that caused her to become active in Polish affairs," Mr. Ciesielski said.

He described Mrs. Miegon as an "attractive blond lady who was rather tall and regal, and who still spoke with a trace of a Polish accent."

The former Barbara Strymowicz was born in Zyrardow, Poland, to an American father and Polish mother. After World War II began, she did not see her father again until 1949 when she emigrated to Manchester in Carroll County.

She moved to Baltimore in 1951 and graduated from St. Martin High School in West Baltimore. She studied X-ray technology and worked at the old Baltimore City Hospitals from 1955 to 1957. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Bay College in 1966 and began working at the agency that she purchased.

Mrs. Miegon was a member of the Polish Veterans Association of World War II and a communicant of the Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Woodlawn.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, 400 S. Chester St.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a daughter, Christine "Nina" Meyers of Waldorf; three aunts, Marita Kacpe of Warsaw, Poland, Janina Kolasinska of Czymanow, Poland, and Krystyna Heidrych of Sopot, Poland; a granddaughter, Brittany Meyers of Waldorf; and a cousin, Andrzej Przykorski of Warsaw.

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