Stanley Kowalski loved the calming nature of being on the water.
After retiring from coaching boys lacrosse at Half Hollow Hills West High School, C.W..Post and other schools, Kowalski could be found fishing on Long Island’s East End on his boat, NAZDROWIE — meaning “to your health,” an honor to his Polish heritage.
Kowalski, known affectionately as Stan or Stas, died unexpectedly on June 5 at 68 in his Bluffton, South Carolina, condo, his brother Pet said. Those who knew the 1965 Mineola High School graduate remembered him for his dependability and infectious personality.
“He was always the life of the party,” said Pete Kowalski, 60, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “Everybody liked him. He was just a person people wanted to be around. He lit up the room.”
A world-class lacrosse player, Stan was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. He was a key contributor to a world champion United States men’s national team in 1974 and an alternate on the 1978 team.
Tom Postel, Stan’s friend and former teammate, recalled spending time with him during the 1974 tournament in Australia.
“It was 42 days around the world,” said Postel, 71, of Medford. “We had a great time. That was the most memorable trip of anything we ever did because we were young, and nobody ever did things like that.”
Kowalski was a decorated lacrosse star. He was a three-time all-American midfielder at Cortland State in 1967-69. He was also Cortland State’s Athlete of the Year in 1969. He graduated from Cortland and taught high school physical education for more than 35 years at Berner, Island Trees, Holy Family and Hills West.
An 11-time USCLA All-Star selection, Stan was inducted into the Long Island Metro Chapter of the Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame in 1989. He was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1997.
“He was as dynamic as anyone,” Postel said. “He wasn’t out there just to pick up ground balls. He was a great offensive player. That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame.”
He parlayed his playing career into lengthy coaching stints at Hills West (1978-1988) and Post, where he served under Postel as assistant coach for 18 years.
“Because he was somebody I looked up to, whatever he said was gospel,” Pete Kowalski said. “I’m still coaching middle school kids in Pennsylvania, and I find myself saying things to those young people that he said to me.”
Stan is survived by his younger twin brothers, Pete and Gerry of Watkinsville, Georgia, and older brother, Len, 72, of Pasadena, California.
Memorial services have yet to be scheduled.