In 1952, Dr. Stefan Wilk married Wanda Harasimowicz, a Detroit native who moved with her parents to California in 1949. During their many years together, the Wilks’ love of Polish music led them to establish and endow numerous organizations that promoted Polish culture. Together with his wife, Dr. Wilk was the founder of the Polish Music Reference Center (now called the Polish Music Center) at the University of Southern California since 1985.
The Wilk endowment provided for the operation of the Center’s staff and their generous support has led to countless concerts, book publishing, creation of the PMC website, and establishing of a unique library of manuscripts, scores and books relating to Polish musical culture. Ars Musica Poloniae, another charitable foundation established in 1992 by the Wilks, facilitated a variety of projects in Polish music from publishing and recording to scholarships for Polish students in Los Angeles.
Stefan and Wanda worked together in all of their charitable endeavors especially Children’s Medical Care Program. Mrs. Wilk was very active in all of the fundraising efforts since the beginning until 2010. She hosted many events at their home for visiting doctors and donors including providing entertainment by promising musicians studying at USC.
The majority of the awards Dr. Wilk and Mrs. Wilk received were initiated in Poland in recognition for their work done in improving the medical health of children in Poland and also for their tireless promotion of Polish music in the US.
Dr. Stefan Wilk and Wanda Wilk received a Gold Medal from the Polish Composers Union and the Polonia Award in Los Angeles in 1988. They also received the first Amicus Poloniae plaque and certificate award from the Polish Ambassador, first of its kind to be issued annually as part of the May 3rd celebration in the US as Polish Day. These awards were for their work to promote Polish Music in the US.
In 1996, both Dr. Wilk and Mrs. Wanda Wilk received the highest non-military award, the Polonia Restituta, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed by Polish government on a civilian, soldier, or a foreigner for their exemplary charitable efforts on behalf of children’s health.
In later years, Stefan and Wanda were honored jointly as husband and wife as recipients and special recognition for their charitable work in health and music. Dr Wilk received the Krzyz Komandorski, Orderu Odrodzenia Polski (Commander’s Cross). Wanda received Krzyz Kawalerski Orderu Odrodzenia Polski. Both were signed by Lech Walesa as one of his last acts in Office. Mrs Wilks ongoing dedication to the promotion and contribution of Polish music in the US was celebrated. The collection of the various contributions by Polish composers to the commonwealth of western and American culture are housed at the University Southern California (USC) Polish Reference Library. The Wilk Endowment ensured the preservation of the Polish Music Collection at USC for as long as it exists. The sponsors in Poland arranged for the ceremony to take place during a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with guests from the medical pediatric leadership (many Polish CMCF Fellows) and many representatives from the musical world were in attendance.
Dr. Wilk passed away on March 25, 2008, but his legacy lives on in the groundwork he laid. Mrs Wilk passed away on ….. she left her legacy in music and CMCF as a lasting imprint.