Camille Joseph Polivka
Camille Joseph Polivka was born on October 6, 1914 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the first child born to parents, Marie and Joseph Polivka, who immigrated to the United States a few years prior. "Cam," or "CJ" as he was often known, cherished his younger sister, Beatrice LaPapa, and often told stories of growing up during the Depression in the Czech neighborhoods of Chicago.
Cam's love of music began at home at a young age, where he loved to listen to his mother sing opera. His mother's melodious soprano stayed with him his entire life and often flooded over him as he listened to his own daughter—and Marie's namesake—perform in the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Cam's musical talents were further developed as he played the Sousaphone in the marching band in high school. Later in life Cam discovered his love of playing the harmonica. Whether it was a Polka or a Southern Hymn, Cam brought the music alive with gusto and loved to bring pleasure through his music.
Cam's desire to serve his country inspired him to volunteer for the Army during World War II
. He served as a Second Lieutenant and was charged with training soldiers, a job which brought him south. In a wonderful twist of fate, Cam's journey led him to his darling—the sparkling blue eyes he fell in love with one morning while on leave in Birmingham, Alabama. He met Gladiola Montez Self (soon to be Polivka) in the fall of 1943 and—always the romantic—married her two weeks later. Cam and Glad were married for 65 wondrous years. Their dedication to each other was always present and grew even stronger as Cam cared for his wife following her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Glad passed in 2009 and must be very happy to be reunited with her husband.
Cam was a dedicated draftsman and mechanical engineer for 40 years at Cumberland Case Corporation in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Glad and Cam moved after WWII and raised their three children.
Cam's children brought him south once more with Glad in 1985; this time to Tallahassee. All three children reside in Tallahassee and were with Cam when he peacefully passed on August 27, 2013. Larry is the Director of the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University; LuMarie is the Senior Director of Policy for Florida Health Care Association; and Dwight followed his mother's path into nursing as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.
Cam is also survived by his three grandchildren: Laurie West, Camille Larson, and Erin Polivka. He joins his fourth granddaughter, Heather Polivka, in heaven. Cam also had two step-grandsons: John Bond and Jake Wilkins. His immediate family also includes his son-in-law, Robert West, and Grandson-in-law, Michael Larson. Finally, Cam was lovingly adored by his great granddaughters—his little angels—Grace Marie Belletto, age 5, and Clara Marie Larson, age 7 months.
Cam's generous spirit and desire to help those in need lives on in his family. He volunteered through his church his entire life and is an enduring inspiration to help others. Cam's humanity did not stop with people. All of his animal companions lived pampered lives, and he adored his cat, Callie, until the very end.
Anyone who met Cam knew his vibrant smile and the exuberance with which he greeted family, friends, and strangers alike. His joy for living was an inspiration and could brighten even the lowest of moods. The pleasure he took in a delicious Sunday dinner surrounded by his family is just one example of his voracious appetite for the joy he found in everyday things.
For those who miss Cam, it is very painful to see him go, but his memory is as warm and comforting as one of his big, silent hugs. He was never shy with a pat on the back or a wet kiss on the cheek, and for that we will always be grateful.
Dobrou Noc, Camille Joseph, dearest one.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Camille Joseph Polivka Memorial Fund at the FSU College of Music (must include reference #F04114S). FSU Foundation, 2010 Levy Ave., Bldg. B, Ste. 300, Tallahassee, FL 32310.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday September 7, 2013 at Heritage Oaks Assisted Living Facility.