Bohdan Chester Hryniewicz, beloved father, grandfather, husband, friend, and Polish patriot died in his Sarasota home at the age of 92. He is survived by his four children, Andrew, Sarah, Elisabeth and Gregory, five grandchildren Nina, Sophia, Alex, Bryce and Neve, nephew Iwo, and devoted wife of 17 years, Anne, as well as Anne’s children and grandchildren, part of Bohdan’s close family circle.
Born in 1931 to noble Polish parents Wladyslaw Hryniewicz and Janina Yankelevich, Chester enjoyed eight peaceful years growing up alongside his brother Andrzej in Vilnius, Poland. WWII changed the course of his life, and his participation in the Warsaw Uprising, memorialized in his published memoir “My Boyhood War, Warsaw 1944,” defined his character forever. His Polish identity (like his accent and his love of bad jokes), was an ever present, life-long, central part of his larger-than-life personality.
In 1946 Bohdan and his mother were prompted to escape from Poland after he angered communist officials by instigating forbidden patriotic activism at his school. They survived a harrowing escape through Germany, reaching England in 1947 where he attended high school and started University. There he learned English by bringing a dictionary to class, phonetically transcribing the lessons, and then translating them at home.
In 1950 he and his mother immigrated to the United States where he obtained a degree in civil engineering at the Newark College of Engineering and continued graduate studies at MIT. After his studies, Bohdan became a partner in Symmes, Mainee, Hryniewicz and McKee, still one of the top architectural engineering firms in Boston today (SMMA). It was here that he met his wife of 42 years and mother of his children, Linda Kelly. Linda was his beloved partner with whom he shared four decades of adventures, joy and travel across the world, and a loving family life in Massachusetts, Sweden, Puerto Rico and Florida.
An entrepreneurial career in construction took him to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1961 and then to Stockholm, Sweden in 1966, where he and a partner built the Park Hotel. In 1971 he returned with Linda and their four kids to Puerto Rico where he set up FORMCO, a pioneering concrete construction company. Ever the maverick, Bohdan developed a concrete forming system that revolutionized how buildings were built in Puerto Rico, while he and Linda restored their beautiful Spanish colonial home in Old San Juan.
Through his daughters’ interest in riding he also became involved in both the Puerto Rican and International Equestrian Federations, qualifying as an international FEI judge, participating in international competitions, attending the Olympics in Seoul on behalf of the Puerto Rican eventing team, and attending yearly FEI galas.
After the fall of communism in Poland, Bohdan was appointed Honorary Consul of Poland in Puerto Rico, a position that he held from 1994-2008. Upon his retirement he was awarded the highest military honor in existence, the Commander Cross, with Star, of the Order of Merit by the President of Poland. As consul he was most proud to have helped accelerate Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic’s entrance to the EU through his diplomatic ties in Puerto Rico.
In 1999 he and Linda retired to Sarasota. Linda passed away in 2001. In 2005, he married Anne Olshansky with whom he was blessed to have shared 17 more years of happiness, and who cared for him with love, patience and humor during his final journey.
Bohdan lived and departed his life surrounded by family and friends that cherished his big heart, unforgettable personality and beautiful soul beyond measure.