|Birth: ||Apr. 4, 1925|
|Death: ||Jun. 18, 2010|
Paul Irving Wilcox
Paul Wilcox was a fixture on "Polka Varieties," a show he hosted on WEWS Channel 5 for 27 years. Paul never learned how to polka. But the war hero and sportscaster hosted the popular "Polka Varieties" on WEWS Channel 5 for 27 years.
Wilcox died June 18 in South Fort Myers, Fla., at age 85.
"I'm just a dumb Limey who fell into all this," he told The Plain Dealer in 1998. "I knew absolutely nothing about polka."
Still, he came to love polka people, who spread the oom-pah-pah of central Europe around the world.
"They work hard and play hard," Wilcox said.
He entertained them on the air, at polka picnics at the German Central Organization in Parma and on eight to ten polka tours per year, from Hawaii to Austria to Japan, often with polka king Frankie Yankovic.
Then again, Wilcox loved most people, even if they didn't know Slovenia from Slovakia.
"Of all the people I've worked with in the business, Paul was one of the most personable and nicest," said Don Webster, retired WEWS personality. "He did a great job."
"He was always friendly, always positive," said polka bandleader and DJ Hank Haller of Westlake.
In 1967, The Plain Dealer's James B. Flanagan called Wilcox "a sunny-faced man with a boyish smile and a heart big enough to give a pal the parachute off his back"-- which Wilcox did in a plummeting plane during the Korean War.
He was born in Sylvania, Ohio, and flew 23 missions over Japan in World War II. Then he went to the University of Michigan, worked for a radio station in Ann Arbor, and met a fellow Sylvanian, Judy Minogue, in an English class. They married after graduation and moved to Cleveland Heights. She taught English a while at Monticello Junior High School. He joined WGAR radio in 1950 as an announcer and sportscaster.
Back on duty in Korea, First Lt. Wilcox was on his 10th mission there when his B-29 was hit by enemy fire. He gave his parachute pack to a comrade, grabbed a loose chute and fluttered down.
The Chinese caught him and held him for most of a year, partly in solitary confinement, trying to make him confess to germ warfare. His family didn't know he was alive until his release after the war. He ended up with three distinguished flying crosses and four air medals.
Wilcox joined WEWS in 1954 and served as an announcer and sports director. Among many duties, he broadcast play by play on TV and radio for the Indians in 1961 and again on radio in 1969. He hosted bowling shows. He announced Cleveland Barons hockey and Wightman Cup and Davis Cup tennis. He reported from the Cleveland Open golf tournament and many other events. He broadcast the first soccer game he ever saw.
For his first two years in town, he was the color man for Browns games. But he quit them in 1956 and started hosting a polka hour on Sundays at 1 p.m., originally with Yankovic.
He worked live at first and later on tape with many bands and dancing audiences. He laughed off the occasional live flub, including a drunken drummer who toppled from the bandstand and a singer whose umbrella hooked Wilcox's toupee.
Leaving WEWS' payroll, Wilcox moonlighted with the show for years while handling public relations for Thistledown horse track, the Cleveland Plaza Hotel and elsewhere. He also hosted a nighttime polka show on WZAK and WIXY.
He lived in several suburbs, mostly Bay Village. He hosted big parties late at night for musicians and sports stars. He once borrowed a putter from Arnold Palmer and forgot to return it. Palmer won a tournament with someone else's putter.
Wilcox hosted "Polka Varieties" until 1983. Retiring in the late 1980s to Fort Myers, he drove a limousine for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples and freelanced as an afternoon host for big-band station WKII in Punta Gorda. His wife died three years ago.
Among other honors, he is on the trustees' honor roll of the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame.
Survivors: Daughters, Rory Wilcox Davies of South Fort Myers, Fla., and Kelly Wilcox of Miami, and a sister, Helen Wilcox of Sylvania.
Interment: Being planned at Arlington National Cemetery.
Contributions: Hope Hospice, 9470 HealthPark Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33908, hopehospice.org.
Arrangements: Harvey-Engelhardt-Metz, Fort Myers, Fla.
By Grant Segall, The Plain Dealer
Judy M Wilcox (1927 - 2007)*
Note: 1ST LT US ARMY, 1ST LT US AIR FORCE; ; WORLD WAR II, KOREA
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: SECTION 54 SITE 1449
Maintained by: Cynthia Kay Moser
Originally Created by: Anne Cady
Record added: Oct 26, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60658110
IN REMEMBRANCE OF 1st LT Wilcox - a very courageous Airman of two wars - WW11/Korea. It is an honor to visit your memorial. Thank you for your valorous and gallant service to our great country - AMERICA - WHERE FREEDOM SHOULD NEVER BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED. T...(Read more)|
Added: Apr. 26, 2015
Added: Aug. 24, 2014
My mother watched your show every Sunday until it ended. Your show made her so happy!|
C. K. Moser
Added: Jan. 5, 2014