PULASKI, Wis. (WFRV) – Northeast Wisconsinites are remembering a local polka legend.

According to an online obituary, Alvin Styczynski passed away on Monday at the age of 87. He devoted his life to entertaining crowds with his polka music and his nickname was the ‘Polka Legend.’

“There’s a song where it says twirl your hankies round and round, he’d take his hankie out and go out in front of the band and everybody would join in and my dad would take over on concertina while he was doing that,” said Carol Osgood.

Osgood and her sister Nancy Heyrman said their dad played in Styczynski’s band so they grew up around polka. They said that Styczynski always made them feel like family and that he was extremely kind and always smiling.

The sisters have several of his albums and said the Christmas album is one they particularly enjoy.

“That’s probably the biggest memory that we will have moving forward is the Christmas album, it was just heart-touching, he sang the beginning in Polish and the end in English so you would always know what the song was about,” they said.

Former bandmates recalled how much fun it was to be part of the band. They said what separated Styczynski from other musicians was his ability to connect with and engage his audience.

“The thing that made the band special was the way Alvin worked the crowd, he had seemingly boundless energy,” said former bandmate Brad Terrell who said he plays trumpet and saxophone.

Terrell also recalled that Styczynski never seemed to get tired of performing even on weekends when he had long shows. Terrell said even as he aged, Styczynski kept up a grueling performance schedule.

Terrell also said that Styczynski loved kids and was always kind to them. He also said he noticed how well Styczynski always treated his wife Sherry.

His accolades are impressive to list off. He’s a member of the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame and that organization awarded him lifetime achievement and senior achievement awards. The Smithsonian Institute selected his band to play in the national Fourth of July celebration in 1985. He had long running radio and television shows on local stations and even wrote a Green Bay Packers polka song.

He was the band leader of the Alvin Styczynski band for 70 years.

Styczynski and his band toured the country and did eight European tours. But friends said that his hometown of Pulaski was always important to Styczynski and that the band played at the Shawano County fair for over forty summers.

Bandmates said Styczynski got recognized wherever he went.

“He was always here smiling, and he’d always come up and we’d talk for a while and we’d have a beer or two once in a while when he wasn’t playing,” said Dale Hodkiewicz who was friends with Styczynski and also the president of the Shawano County Fair for 20 years.

Hodkiewicz said that Styczynski would end his sets by praying for peace and reminding the audience to go to church.

“I know that he’s in a better place, but life goes on and he says the same thing,” said Hodkiewicz. “Keep that polka music playing.”

“He always had that very happy grin on his face that was contagious,” said Heyrman.

“His voice was so powerful and he never lost that enthusiasm for pleasing the crowd,” said Terrell.