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About Dr. Joseph F. and Honey Karpinski

Dr. Joseph F. and Honey Karpinski

In 1952, Auburn native and respected oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Sr. entered a two-year residency at Jersey City Medical Center, where he met his future wife, Floryanna (Honey) Lesczynski, a nursing student from Plains, Pa. In 1956, Honey and Joe married in Plains, Pa., and settled in Auburn.

Both Joe and Honey came from large Polish families who believed that education was integral to an individual's success, and they instilled that into their own children. The couple's six children all launched successful professional careers: Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Jr., a family dentist and his wife Leslie of Scottsville, N.Y.; Dr. John D. Karpinski, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon of Palm City, Fla.; and Dr. Paul A. Karpinski, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon of Skaneateles; Dr. Kathryn M. Karpinski, an endodontist of Skaneateles; Kristina Karpinski Engel, Esq., an immigration attorney and her husband Leonard of Hollister, Mass.; and Dr. Susan E. Karpinski Failla, a family practitioner, and her husband Peter of Flemington, N.J. They have 11 grandchildren and 20 nephews and nieces.

About Floryanna “Honey” Lesczynski Karpinski

Floryanna “Honey” Lesczynski Karpinski

After  attending Jersey State Teachers College and earning a nursing degree from Jersey City Medical Center, Honey and her sister, Lillian, also a nurse, traveled to Morocco and Tunisia, Africa, to put their nursing skills to work with the children and learn a new culture. native of Plains, Pa., Honey moved to Auburn in 1956 after she married Dr. Karpinski. During the 35 years that she lived in Auburn, she became known for dedicated works to help others and her gracious manners. She was very much involved in the community, the arts, Polish heritage charities, and her family. Honey traveled extensively and besides nursing the sick in Africa, she was invited to lecture in China several times at the Sino-American Medical-Surgical Nursing Seminars. Above all, Honey was devoted to her children who loved and cherished her.

Honey served as a board member of the Cayuga County Arts Council, the YMCA, the Schweinfurth Memorial Arts Center, and the Friends of Schweinfurth. She was past president of the Auburn Service League, the Dental Auxillary, and the Newcomers Club. She held a variety of positions with the PTO and was a member of the school board. She was a den mother for all three of her sons' Boy Scout Troops. She was also very active with her church, St Hyacinth's parish. She volunteered as a religious education instructor, lector, remedial reading tutor, and library assistant. She received the Community Spirit Award in Medicine and Arts in 1986.

A fund-raiser in her own right, Honey is credited with leading several successful campaigns for the organizations in which she was involved. She was known to find innovative ways to help the organizations reach their goals and was known to host receptions in her own home to help publicize events. She sought to provide educational opportunities for community members, especially young people.

Honey was diagnised with breast cancer and then ovarian cancer and received treatment at Sloan Kettering and the National Institutes for Health. She passed away at home in 1991. Two years later, under the direction of Carmelite Fathers of Poland, Dr. Karpinski had a chapel built and dedicated to his beloved wife in Korona, Fla., the place where she recharged physically and spiritually after her cancer surgeries and treatments.


About Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Sr.

Dr. Joseph Karpinski

Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Sr. retired from medical practice in 1997 after 45 years as one of the foremost oral and maxillofacial surgeons in New York State. At one time, he had offices in Auburn, Geneva, and Ithaca and served on the medical staff of hospitals in eight cities in the region.

Dr. Karpinski has enjoyed a long and distinguished life. He was one of five brothers all born at home over his parents' dry goods store located at 47 Perrine Street in Auburn. His parents, John and Helen Karpinski, had educated their four sons – a fifth son died in his teens – to be professionals: Stephen, a physician; John, an attorney; Joseph, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon; and Arthur, a periodontist.

Always proud of his roots, two of Dr. Karpinski's favorite sayings are "Don't forget where you came from" and "If you love your work, you'll never work a day in your life." He has adhered to both of these sayings throughout his own lifetime. Fond of using a thesaurus, he is also known for using lists of positive words to describe things, often using alliteration to enhance the effect.

Dr. Karpinski is a true collector. During his world travels he has collected postage stamps, coins, match covers, player piano rolls, Chinese Cloisonné – including a terra cotta warrior soldier, old books, porcelain figures, Russian icons, Polish medals (awards), German beer steins, amber jewelry, oriental jade, Barney paintings, and old prints.

A 75-year member of the Boy Scouts of America, Dr. Karpinski earned his Eagle Scout in 1940, the Silver Beaver Award in 1963 and the Distinguished Eagle Award in 1982--the only person in Cayuga County to receive this honor. He was a member of the Council Heritage Society and a James E. West Fellow and for many years was president of the Owasco Campers Association (Camp Rotary). He was also president of the Cayuga County Boy Scout Council from 1960 to 1964.


A Life Beyond Auburn

Joseph Karpinski and his wife Honey

After graduating from Auburn's East High School in 1942, Dr. Karpinski enrolled at Boston College for pre-professional studies. However, his undergraduate education was interrupted at this time as he was called to serve his country during World War II. He entered the Army infantry, doing his training at Camp Hood in Waco, Texas. Upon completion of advanced infantry training, he entered the Army's Specialized Training Program, which sent him to Cornell University to complete his pre-professional studies.

Dr. Karpinski began his studies in dentistry at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and then attended the University of Minnesota and the Western Reserve Dental School. He received his doctor of dental surgery degree from the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis. In 2005, he was awarded a distinguished alumnus honor from the Indiana University School of Dentistry, where he dedicated his acceptance speech to his brother Dr. Arthur A. Karpinski, also an Indiana Dental School graduate, who died in June 2005.

Dr. Karpinski enlisted in the U.S. Public Health Service and was assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard base in Curtis Bay, Md., and to the Marine Hospital in Baltimore, where he completed a year's residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery. While there, he also took a variety of science courses at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Karpinski was next assigned to the motorized medical-dental unit covering the Coast Guard bases, lighthouses and other service units from Brownsville, Texas, to Key West, Fla., along the Gulf of Mexico and up to Savannah, Georgia, on the Atlantic Ocean. During the Korean War, he was transferred to Alaska as the only U.S. Public Officer in that territory treating Coast Guard personnel, Eskimos, Indians, and other Alaskans. After completing his second stint of military service with the rank of senior assistant dental surgeon, he entered the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for oral and maxillofacial surgery. Dr. Karpinski did his second year of residency at Jersey City Medical Center. He also did additional graduate course work at the New York University of Dentistry, the Columbia School of Dentistry and Oral Surgery, and Tufts University Dental School.

While at Jersey City Medical Center, he met his future wife, Floryanna (Honey) Lesczynska, a nursing student from Plains, Pa.


Returning to His Roots

Dr. Karpinski was on the executive board of Trustees of Auburn Memorial Hospital from 1982 to 1986. He was a consultant at the BOCES School of Nursing as well as a Clinical Consultant on the Board with the rating oral surgeon status with the New York Department of Health. He was a Fellow of the American College of Dentists and the American College of Stomatologic Surgeons. He was also a lecturer of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Cayuga Community College and an instructor at Georgetown University Dental School and an assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Dentistry for many years.

Dr. Karpinski was a Founding Fellow of the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He was elected president of the American Society of Psychosomatic Medicine in Dentistry in 1964, president of the New York State Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in 1970, and president of the Cayuga County Dental Society. In 1975, he was elected president of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and they were honored to have U.S. President Gerald Ford as the principal speaker at their meeting that year. Dr. Karpinski is also an honorary member of the Southeastern Society of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons.

In addition, Dr. Karpinski was an active member of numerous professional societies related to his surgical specialty. He authored many essays and papers on oral and maxillofacial surgery and related topics. In 1964 he became a Diplomat of the American Board of Dental Hypnosis. In June 2002 he was awarded diplomat status on the National Dental Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Karpinski worked with the late State Senator George R. Metcalf of Auburn on various bills in the state legislature pertaining to his medical specialty.


A Man of the World

Dr. Karpinski has traveled extensively throughout the world and visited 93 countries and all seven continents. Proud of his heritage, Dr. Karpinski traveled to Poland often and devoted much time and effort providing medical supplies to Poland, collecting and transporting the supplies himself on many of his trips during the communist era. He met with John Paul II in Rome several times, and among other things, they discussed the situation in Poland and Dr. Karpinski's work concerning the proper distribution of donated medical supplies there. His fluency in Polish, which he perfected with cassettes and records, served him well in these discussions and as he traveled throughout Poland.

Moreover, in November 1993 Dr. Karpinski was the second American citizen to be knighted and made a member of the Knights of the Black Madonna at Jasna Gora. Lech Walesa was knighted the year before. While in Poland Dr. Karpinski met Mr. Walesa and spent a great deal of time with him. In 1982, Dr. Karpinski was elected Polish-American Man of the Year for the Finger Lakes and Man of the Year by the National Medical Dental Advocates Association. In 1986, he was awarded the Gold Service Star for service and devotion to the Polish Falcons.


Committed to Lifelong Learning

Dr. Karpinski, also known to his friends as Dr. Joe, has always tried to keep himself mentally and physically fit. Besides traveling and supervising his charitable foundation, Dr. Joe enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends. Furthermore in the past few years he has again taken up some of his favorite sports, including jet-skiing, parasailing and four-wheeling on his farm near the lake.

Dr. Joe is a strong believer in giving back to the community that supported him. His long list of community activities included service such as a commissioner of the Auburn Housing Authority from 1955 to 1960, a member of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of Fleet Bank from 1972 to present (which later became Bank of America) and he was on the Fred Everest Trust Committee of the Bank of America. He was a founder of the Cayuga Community College Foundation, where he served as the first president for four years and elected the first honorary member. He was also a member of the Cayuga Community College Board of Trustees from 1977 to 1986.


Leaving a Legacy

In 1998, Dr. Joe had a bandstand built and placed in Hoopes Park on US Route 20 East. This Victorian bandstand adorned with intricate carvings and crowned with a copper roof and bronze finial featuring the Polish word WITAMY – We Welcome You – was a gift from him and dedicated in appreciation to the people of Auburn, Cayuga County and surrounding area and its designer, Gary Patrick Wilbert (1947-1998). During the summer months, many Auburnians and visitors appreciate using this charming addition to the park for weddings and various programs. Dr. Joe also had a 14-foot carving of an Indian placed on a bluff overlooking Owasco Lake, South of Long Point for all to enjoy.

For several years, Dr. Joe sponsored one of the largest and most well-attended events of the summer, "The Blue Lights Reunion," with a night of music and dancing at the Pavilion at the foot of Owasco Lake that was free to all attending and attracted more than 3,500 people.

In 2005, the rotunda in the new addition to the Cayuga Community College Auburn Campus was dedicated and named after Dr. Karpinski. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Alliance College in Pennsylvania and joined the Board of Trustees of the University of New England in 2004, serving on the Facilities and Long-Range Planning Committee.

Dr. Karpinski is a communicant and active member of St. Hyacinth's Catholic Church, serving on the Finance Committee for many years. He founded and was executive director of the Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Sr. Charitable Foundation. He was also instrumental in the building of the Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Sr. Educational Center (a wing of the Ward O'Hara Agricultural Museum) at the foot of Owasco Lake.