Edward J. Bartek Rose From Horrific Childhood To Pillar Of Wisdom
Anne M. Hamilton
March 14, 2010
Ed Bartek triumphed over a childhood straight out of a Dickens novel to become a successful teacher and the creator of a philosophical worldview he called Trinityism.
He was born to Michael and Anna Bartosiewicz on Nov. 25, 1921, in Hartford, the fourth of five children. His parents had emigrated from Poland, and his father was a juggler and circus performer. The family was poor, and after his mother became ill when he was about 10, his father was unable to raise the children. The four youngest were shuffled around among three foster homes, an orphan asylum in New Haven and the Hartford County Home in Warehouse Point.
The conditions overall were terrible. Bartek was separated from his siblings. At times, he was given poor or insufficient food. In one home, he was isolated in the attic and no one spoke to him for months. He was not allowed to visit the bathroom when he wanted, and he could take a bath only once a month.
The mistreatment affected him socially.
"He didn't fit in, and he had no one to show him the ways of acting in public," said his son, Alex Bartek.
Although he had few friends, he was bright and was pushed two years ahead in school.
Bartek dropped out of Hartford Public High School at age 16. He lied about his age and enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps, working as a surveyor and dynamiter helping to clear land for a state park in Haddam.
"He felt isolated," said Bartek's son. "He went inward. All he had was imagination and thinking."
Bartek joined the Navy in World War II and served on ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific. When his ship crossed the equator, Bartek refused to go along with the traditional hazing that sailors inflict on one another and was subsequently shunned by the crew for the rest of his tour of duty.
"He had no clue how to interact with people," said Alex Bartek. "Nobody talked to him, but he didn't even know what was happening."
He changed his name to Bartek after the war because his family name was perpetually mispronounced. (In the Navy, his mates didn't even try and called him Jones.)
After the war, Bartek returned to Hartford and worked at Hamilton Standard Propeller, at the state of Connecticut's unemployment compensation office and at Travelers Insurance Co.
He was married in 1949 to Eugenia Redekas, who died in 1987. They had two sons.
With the help of the G.I. Bill, Bartek attended Hillyer College, now the University of Hartford, and earned a bachelor's degree in the mid-1950s and later a master's degree. He began teaching English at A.I. Prince Vocational Technical School in Hartford and became head of the department. He retired about 1976 after more than 20 years of teaching.
His lifelong obsession with writing resulted in more than 35 books, all self-published. He wrote voluminously on many topics but mostly about a complex philosophical system he devised called Trinityism.
"His life's passion was thinking about ordering the universe," said Alex Bartek. His philosophy involved thinking about the physical world in groups of threes: water, steam and ice, for example, neutral, plus and minus, or hot, warm and cold. On another level, the divisions included soul, mind and body, or the physical, spiritual and sensual worlds.
"He came up with laws of a broader nature to explain everything in our existence," said Alex. "It gave him an insight into people's problems."
Over the years, Bartek tried to popularize his theories. He wrote several hundred letters to the editors of local newspapers. He spoke on the radio and used his theories to counsel people with psychological and marriage problems. He taught ethics and philosophy at Tunxis, Manchester and Middlesex community colleges. He wrote two volumes of his autobiography, a book on dreams and one on fables.
"He tried to unify spiritual, scientific and rational thinking in one whole," said Patton Duncan, a physics professor at Capitol Community College and an admirer of Bartek's thinking. "He didn't have one idea; he created a system like Plato, Kant or Aquinas. His work attempts to create a synthesis of philosophy, science and spirituality."
He concentrated for many years on poetry — he wrote 10 volumes — and was a founder and former vice president of the Connecticut Poetry Society and a founder and president for 15 years of the society's local chapter, the Wit and Wisdom Writers Club. He organized several poetry festivals at Manchester Community College and readings at local nursing homes. In 2005, he was honored by being named to the Manchester Arts Commission Hall of Fame.
"His poetry was very, very easy to understand," said Linda Richardson, a member of the club. "He used poetry to get his philosophy across."
His years of isolation made Bartek awkward socially. He couldn't make small talk and was humble and unassuming, but he had several close friends with whom he shared poetry and philosophy. He was quiet, but "strongly opinionated about everything," said his son.
But Bartek was not timid. His son remembers a day in Hartford when young men were picking on a homeless man who was having trouble defending himself. "He just went right in and pushed them away," said Alex. "He got angry."
"It was difficult for him to smile or laugh," said Alex. "He didn't enjoy comedy, and it was difficult to open up."
As a father, Bartek urged his sons to examine what they were doing so they could understand, for example, how the motor worked in the motorcycle they were driving. He took them hiking, rock climbing and white-water canoeing throughout Connecticut.
After his wife died, Bartek lived alone and wrote constantly. He died of a stroke.
Bartek eventually overcame the effects of years of deprivation, his son said. He forced himself to dance at his son's wedding.
"It took great effort," said Alex. "This is the first time he enjoyed himself. He overcame a lot."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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