Clement Tetkowski, an art professor whose connection with Siena, Italy, launched the oldest study-abroad program in the State University system, died Thursday (Aug. 27, 1998) in Riverwood Health Care Center, Grand Island, after a long illness. He was 78.
Tetkowski taught art and design at Buffalo State College for 34 years, earning a reputation as an inspiring professor with very high standards.
In 1961, he became founding director of the Siena program, taking his family with him to Italy for four years while supervising his students' study of Italian art.
The Buffalo-Siena Sister City Program is an outgrowth of the strong bond formed by hundreds of Buffalo State art students who have spent a semester in Siena.
Tetkowski served as chairman of the design department for 10 years before retiring from the college in 1983. In retirement, he continued his travels and strong interest in art and music. He and his wife established the Clement and Lenore Tetkowski Siena Program Scholarship.
Their son, Neil, is a well-known ceramic artist now working on a sculpture for the United Nations to be composed of clay from 185 countries.
The elder Tetkowski also was an early advocate of planned communities, which he felt could create safe, affordable housing for all people. He illustrated this in his own unique home on Grand Island, which he designed and built with his wife.
Born in Newark, N.J., Tetkowski spent summers during the 1930s Depression hitchhiking around the country. He earned a bachelor of science degree from New Jersey State Teachers College, then served with the U.S. Army Military Police in North Africa and Italy during World War II.
After the war, he earned a master of arts degree and a doctorate from Columbia University.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Lenore; his son, Neil of New York City; two daughters, Diane Pokorski of Lancaster and Mira Berkley of Fredonia; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Burchfield-Penney Art Center of Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave.