Taduesz Michael Urban, 98
Taduesz Michael (T. M.) Urban left this world peacefully in his sleep on July 23, 2023 at his son and daughter-in-law’s home in Marblehead, MA. He was 98 years old.
Born on May 17, 1925 in Sedziszow, Poland to Adam Urban and Stephania (Bielak) Urban, Tad’s life spanned almost a century and a good part of the world. His brother Joseph died in an accident at an early age. It was April 1940, when Tad was 14 years old, that the occupying Russians in Lwów, then Polish, threw him, his baby sister, and his parents, onto three different cattle cars. 15 days later he was in Kazakhstan and ended up at a work farm. When they didn’t feed the workers, they struck, were arrested, and sent to jail. That saved his life. They fed him in jail and he learned Russian from the prison guards. Tad would become fluent in five languages; Polish, Russian, Italian, English, and German.
His little sister starved to death.
After the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union and broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in June 1941 they sent the prison guards to the front and Tad made his way across Kazakhstan to Iran and then Iraq using his skills and wits and newly learned Russian. He doctored a birth document by changing the year of his birth from 1925 to 1923. That allowed him to be old enough to sign up for a Polish army unit fighting under the Brits. In September of 1943 he crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa to central Italy. His life-long fix-it skills were put to good use repairing tank radios as he and his fellow Poles fought at Monte Cassino in May 1944. Polish losses there were 1150 dead and 3049 wounded. And on Sundays, the Nazis and Allies had a truce and he would drive his jeep to the beach where he would swim for miles alone. He always loved the sea.
After the war, in London, he met Olga Hofbauer, a Viennese Jewish refugee, earned an electrical engineering degree, married, and had two children, Joseph Michael and Margaret Irene. Then the young family, including Olga’s Viennese mother Flora, emigrated to Australia, where Ray was born and where he built his family’s home. Then on to New Jersey, where David Richard was born. He was a brilliant electrical engineer. His ideas and patents and products were at the core of Multi-Amp, an electrical testing equipment company. He never received the recognition or the compensation for his contributions.
Olga died from breast cancer in 1962. The family lived in many places as Tad advanced his career. He ended up working for GE and was a key player in the Apollo program; designing and supervising the UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) that insured that all the key equipment at Cape Kennedy would always have power. He was one of the country’s leading experts in high-voltage power and taught a generation of electrical engineers and electricians. It also nearly killed him. He survived a 1975 12,000 volt electrical short circuit accident.
In 1974 Tad married Vivien Hoffmann. That marriage would last for 42 happy and travel filled years. They lived in many places, Georgia (3 locations), Delaware, Texas, and Maryland (3 locations). In 1988 he supervised the construction of a custom home, designed by his son Ray, in Grasonville, MD. They traveled the world together; Europe, Australia, Africa to visit Tad’s daughter Margaret, and their favorite, Hawaii (25 times). In 2017 he realized his dream of cruising through the Panama Canal. Marrying Vivien brought her family into his and he loved them and taught them and was silly with them. Vivien passed away in 2016 and from that day on he missed her dearly and included her in every grace he said.
Tad leaves behind his four children; Joseph Michael (Virginia, Florida), Margaret (Johannesburg, South Africa), Raymond (Massachusetts), David Richard (West Virginia) and Vivien’s three children; Mary Ann (Maryland), Robin (California) and John (Connecticut). And 16 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Tad was always a teacher. Contributions are welcome to be made in his name to Engineers without Borders;