Richard L. Polgar
ONEONTA — Dr. Richard Louis Polgar of Oneonta, passed away Saturday afternoon, Jan. 12, 2013, at the Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Center of America, while surrounded by his family. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, which Polgar vigorously battled over the last year. He was 62.
Richard was born April 22, 1950, in New Brunswick, N.J., to the late Theodore and Elizabeth Polgar.
In 1972, he married Barbara Diane Bystrek, who was by his side 24 hours a day.
Richard attended Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., and graduated from the College of Dental Medicine at Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1975.
He moved to Oneonta in 1976, to open up his dental practice. Known throughout the area as “Doc,” Richard was a noted dentist, avid sportsman, world traveler, and committed family man.
He was also recognized for his unique brand of humor and his tremendous giving nature. His deadpan delivery was quixotic to some and enjoyable to others.
He was particularly notorious for ordering a half-cheese/half-sausage pizza and convincing an unsuspecting waitress that the pie needed to be returned because the sausage was on the wrong side, against his Italian upbringing. The waitress took back the pizza, apologizing that the sausage was not on the left side like he wanted. The owner of the restaurant figured out the ruse by simply rotating the pizza.
Richard was also 100 percent Hungarian.
On the giving front, “Doc” was an active gardener who often gave away many of his exotic plants, flowers, and blueberries that he grew in his greenhouse and backyard. He was a man who was most comfortable playing in the dirt, fishing in a stream or lake in any weather, or hunting in the woods.
Fascinated by other cultures and cuisines, he traveled the world many times over with his wife and family. One of his favorite activities while abroad was scuba diving, a hobby he documented with colorful pictures of fish, coral reef, and sharks.
For those who knew him, he had an infectious zest for life and was seemingly always on the move.
One of Richard’s proudest accomplishments was building and running a successful dental practice, Bearable Dentistry, located at 7 Dietz St., in Oneonta. While most people associate dentistry with pain, he went out of his way to make his patients feel at ease. Whether it was his confident demeanor, masterful work, or the eclectic music playing in the background, he had a gift for relaxing patients.
He was well-known for the thematic rooms at Bearable Dentistry, each space being outfitted with an array of memorabilia. There is a room dedicated to his nature photography, his Civil War collection, the music of his youth, and the New York Yankees.
Despite battling pancreatic cancer for the last year, Richard was still able to participate in many of his favorite activities. This past summer he could be seen zipping around Otsego Lake at 70 mph on his SeaDoo personal watercraft, after having undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy and aggressive surgeries. He tried to instill in those around him that life should be lived to the fullest.
Another important moment in his life was attending a speech this past November by the Dalai Lama at his first son’s alma mater, Syracuse University. Although he was extremely ill throughout the talk, he was able to maintain his composure and listen to the Dalai Lama’s words of wisdom. He was at ease.
Richard leaves behind his beloved wife of 40 years, Barbara; and his four sons, Richard Jr., Thomas, David and Steven Polgar. He is survived by his two siblings, Dr. Theodore Polgar and Linda Dougherty; along with two grandchildren, Richie and Conor Polgar.
A viewing will occur at the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand St., Oneonta, from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013.
A Mass will be held at St. Mary’s Church at 39 Walnut St., Oneonta, at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.
Dr. Polgar loved flowers and plants. Any flowers should be sent to Grummons Funeral Home.
Any donations in his name should be directed to Cancer Treatment Center of America, 1331 East Wyoming St., Philadelphia, PA 19124.
For more information, please call Bearable Dentistry at 432-5444.
Condolences to the family may be made online by visiting the website at www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.