Obituary – Polka Dan
Daniel Tadeusz Zantek, 1935-2019
Daniel T. Zantek, better known as Polka Dan, 84, of Anchorage, Alaska passed away peacefully in his sleep on August 15, 2019. Dan was born on May 4, 1935, in Nordeast Minneapolis, Minnesota to Polish immigrants Frank Zantek and Agnes Stoklosa. Dan was the youngest of five children all who preceded him in death.
Dan graduated from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, with a B.A. in social studies and a minor in piano. He was working in the missile silos of South Dakota when the 1964 earthquake struck Alaska. Job opportunities created by the quake brought him to Anchorage that year. In 1965, he settled in Girdwood, Alaska where he was soon entertaining regularly at the Dble Musky and quickly acquired the name Polka Dan.
In 1980, he moved to Anchorage where he spent the remainder of his years.
Claiming to have never held any job more than five years, he worked numerous jobs in his lifetime to include welder, electrician, telephone lineman, bricklayer, subcontractor, teacher, counselor, automobile salesman and real estate broker.
Above all, Dan was best known for his masterful playing of the Chemnitzer concertina. At age seven, he promptly began teaching himself to play after his brother upon departing for military service instructed him not to touch his concertina! Over the years, he “honked kordeen” in over 30 countries as well as numerous events throughout Alaska and the lower 48 states. In 2017, he was bestowed the honor of being inducted into the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame.
Polka Dan is survived by a son John, daughter Susan, extended family, and a multitude of friends and adoring fans around the world.
A polka celebration honoring the life of Polka Dan will be held on Sun., Nov. 3, 2019 from 2-6 p.m. at Moose Lodge 1534, located at 4211 Arctic Blvd, Anchorage, AK. Music by local polka bands and light refreshments will be provided.
Editor’s Note: “Dble Musky” is the original spelling of the restaurant now known as Double Musky and under different ownership.