Dr. Michael E. Kolakowski Jr., a longtime Glen Burnie dentist who chronicled his life in an unpublished memoir, died Nov. 10 of complications from sepsis at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. He was 85.
Michael Edward Kolakowski Jr. was born in a Fells Point rowhouse on Duncan Alley, the fourth of five children of Polish immigrant parents, Michael E. Kolakowski Sr., an electrician, and his wife, Ida Zwolinski Kolakowski, a seamstress.
“This house had no central heat, cooking was done on a woodstove, no bathroom (you took your bath in a washtub in the kitchen), a flush toilet was located in a shed in the backyard,” Dr. Kolakowski wrote in an unpublished memoir.
“Chamber pots were also used. It still had gas light fixtures on the walls, but they were unused. There was a kerosene heater in the parlor, but it was only used when company came,” he wrote.
“Of course, there was no telephone, TV, AC, or iPhone. Some shopping was done at the little corner store, you had a little pad, and when you bought an item, it and its price were entered in the book,” Dr. Kolakowski wrote.
“Pay day (cash) was on Friday, and you went to the store with your book and settled up. No one bought a lot of meats etc. because there was no refrigeration, except for an ice box. The ice man delivered the ice, and he left the amount indicated by a card placed in the window.”
Dr. Kolakowski recalled that most people didn’t have cars and either walked or used streetcars, which were “more reliable than buses.”
He later moved with his family to Dundalk and, in 1951, to Marlyn Avenue in Essex. He was graduated the same year at the top of his class at Kenwood High School.
Because Baltimore County public schools were segregated, Dr. Kolakowski as a youngster attended a white elementary school while “blacks went to a black school,” he wrote.
“There were two other forms of segregation in our neighborhood. We had two bars. One of these had a divider which allowed them to serve blacks in the rear section and whites in the front,” he wrote. “The other bar was a stag bar and served only men. Later, the law made this unlawful. If a woman came into the bar, men would use loud, foul language.”
Dr. Kolakowski’s studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, were interrupted when he enlisted in the Air Force in 1953.
After being discharged in 1955, he returned to College Park, where he received a bachelor’s degree two years later.
While attending the University of Maryland as an undergraduate, and later its school of dentistry, from which he graduated in 1961, Dr. Kolakowski worked at Bethlehem Steel Key Highway Shipyard, a paper mill, and various other places, to pay his tuition, family members said.
He met Dorothy Malone in Ocean City in 1957, and married her five years later.
In 1962, he established a general dental practice in his home in the 7800 block of Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard in Glen Burnie.
“He took a turn down a hallway and and went to work,” said a daughter, Maura Taylor of Canton.
After moving to Severna Park in 1973, he continued his practice in his former Glen Burnie home
“Many times, he provided his services for free to those who could not afford them,” Ms. Taylor said. “He was an incredibly generous person who took people as they were. He was a liberal who embraced everyone.”
When an African-American called one day inquiring if he accepted them as patients, Dr. Kolakowski asked what color his money was.
Greg Webster of Arnold was both a family friend and patient. “I guess I was a patient of Dr. Mike’s for more than 30 years,” he said.
“He was a one-man show and did everything himself. He was basically the epitome of an old-school family dentist,” Mr. Webster said. “He was all business and loved to talk, and when he was digging in my mouth, all I could say was, ‘uh-huh’ or ‘huh-uh.’ He had a great personality and I loved him to death.”
Audrey Noguera Sabiston of Fallston was a patient, and grew up with Dr. Kolakowski’s daughters in Severna Park.
“He was an incredible person and like a second father to me. He was an amazing person who treated me like a daughter,” Ms. Sabiston said.
“Dr. Kolakowski was nice, kind, generous and thoughtful, and helped me out at a time in my first job when I didn’t have good insurance. He was helpful and took care of my dental needs, and was there for me,” she said. “He was always a kind and courteous person.”
Dr. Kolakowski, who had worked for several years at Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s dental clinic on East Lombard Street, retired in 2003.
His professional memberships included the American Dental Association and the Maryland State Dental Association. He was a member and past president of both the Anne Arundel County Dental Association and the Anne Arundel County Dental Club.
Dr. Kolakowski was a former Maryland State Dental Association delegate to the House of Delegates and served on the state Arbitration Board.He also was a member of the American Legion for 40 years.
He was an inveterate hunter and fisherman, and his other hobbies included gardening, making stained glass, antiquing and reading about World War II.
In his memoir, Dr. Kolakowski wrote that man landing on the moon was a momentous event.
“As a kid, used to dream of going to the moon, but I did not think it would ever happen. No one knows what will occur in the future (that is, if we don’t blow up the earth first),” he wrote.
“Personally, I would like the same amount of time, money, and energy spent on solving the problems people have here on earth. If a truly gigantic effort was put forth and the prejudice of mankind eliminated, it could be done,” he wrote.
“‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ Do your thing, but also let others do theirs,” he advised in the memoir.
A celebration of Dr. Kolakowski’s life will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Holy Grounds, 623 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, Severna Park.
In addition to his wife of 56 years and daughter, he is survived by two other daughters, Bethany DeLude of Edgewater and Cara Kolakowski-Jacobs of Arnold; a sister, Shirley Travers of Essex; and seven grandchildren.