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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2012

Richard Folta, 1936-2012: Dance-band drummer was retired from L-O-F

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Richard Folta, 75, who made his career at the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. plant in Rossford but played drums in combos, dance bands, and orchestras at functions of every type for 70 years, died Sunday in his Point Place home.

He had prostate cancer that metastasized to his bones. Still, on Nov. 27, he was at the drums for the annual fall-winter concert of the Toledo Polish American Concert Band, his daughter Susan Snyder said.

He retired about 20 years ago from L-O-F, where for more than 30 years he made sure proper levels of electricity and natural gas flowed into the plant and glass-making continued uninterrupted.

He was 4 when he started on drums and was not much older when he and his brother Victor, an accordionist, first played Polish-American wedding receptions.

"He's been playing ever since," his daughter said. He kept time for those staples of the Polish-American dance floor, the polka and the oberek.

"He knew how to play just about anything -- polkas and tangos and rock and roll," said Joe Zdunczyk, his brother-in-law, an accordionist and band leader. "He even called square dances.''

Off the bandstand, he listened to Chet Zablocki's Polka Party radio program and Miles Davis; Pink Floyd, and songs by the Rat Pack. "He just loved music," his daughter Sherrylynn Taylor said.

He grew up in North Toledo. A graduate of Woodward High School, where he played drums in the marching band, he attended the University of Toledo.

Mr. Folta attained the highest distinction in the Knights of Columbus, the Fourth Degree. He was a former grand knight of St. Lawrence Council 4169, a member of Bishop Hoffman Assembly 807, and an honor guard. He was an associate of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania.

His first wife, the former Patricia Ann Lukasik, died in 1978. His second wife, the former Frances "Joyce" Gajewski, died in 2008.

Surviving are his daughters, Sherrylynn Taylor and Susan Snyder, brother, Victor, and five grandchildren.

Visitation is to be from 2-8 p.m. Wednesday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe, where a recitation of the Rosary is to begin at 7 p.m. Funeral services are to be at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. John the Baptist Church, where he was in the Holy Name Society.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Knights of Columbus St. Lawrence Council 4169, St. John the Baptist Church, or the Polish American Concert Band.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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