Andrzej Wasilewicz, Polish Activist

March 10, 1951 - Dec. 13, 2016
Andrzej Wasilewicz, March 10, 1951 - Dec. 13, 2016

Andrzej Wasilewicz was an actor, writer, director, producer, and musician, but he also was a political activist who fought for democracy in Poland. On Dec. 13, the anniversary of the day in 1983 that martial law was imposed there, Mr. Wasilewicz died of complications of Parkinson’s disease at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn. He was 65 years old.

Mr. Wasilewicz, who lived on the South Fork for about 18 years, most recently at Windmill Village in East Hampton, fled Poland and arrived in Brooklyn in 1980. In 2009, he received a Gold Star of Merit at the Polish consulate in New York for his support of democracy and humanitarian efforts.

During the 1970s in Poland, he was in 43 feature films, 16 made-for-television films, and 14 stage productions. Friends said his was a household name during that decade and that he drew comparisons to Tom Cruise. He also composed more than 60 songs, some of which were collected in an album called “Solidarity.”

His daughter, Nisia Wasilewicz, who lives in Tulum, Mexico, said her father’s writing and songs “were a celebrated symbol of an underground movement.” She said, “He detailed the darkness of this world to me with an exposure to film, literature, and music typically inappropriate for a child. He prepared me thoroughly for everything that was to follow, and for that I will always owe him my deepest gratitude. I am insightful and spirited and unyielding because of him.”

He was born March 10, 1951, in Bialogard, Poland, and was raised in Koszalin, not far from the Baltic Sea. In his youth, he enjoyed summers surrounded by nature at a family-owned cottage in Mielno, Poland. He attended the University of Poznan, studying psychology, and later enrolled in the Academy of Performing Arts in Warsaw.

Shortly after he arrived in the United States, he enrolled in Columbia University, where he studied screenwriting and directing, earning a master’s degree in fine arts. He wrote, directed, and produced Polish-language programs in the 1980s, and was a production assistant for the American Motion Picture Company and New Line Cinema. He also lectured on film at Columbia.

Mr. Wasilewicz played classical guitar, enjoyed watching international soccer, and held a third-degree black belt in judo, in which he had been a champion as a teenager. He supported organizations that benefited Native Americans and wounded veterans.

“He fought for freedom his whole life. Being in America was a blessing for him. He was an extremely intelligent, sensitive, and artistic man who gave to everyone and had an open heart,” Joan Henry, an East Hampton friend, said.

Mr. Wasilewski had been married and divorced. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a brother, Zigmond Wasilewicz, who lives in Poland. A memorial service was held at the Polish Slavic Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on Dec. 18, and another will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the community room at Windmill Village I, 207 Accabonac Road, East Hampton.