Roman Maciejczyk

Roman Maciejczyk, application photo. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.Fig. 1

Roman Maciejczyk could be seen as representative of the ideals that brought all of the various people who participated in the school together. He aggressively pursued a wide array of subjects, with classes at the beginning of his career largely in French and German but by the end covering subjects ranging from Ecology to Anthropology, to Religion and Philosophy.[1] In addition, he seems to have engaged with the College’s approach to work and community as much as he did its ideals in regards to a broad liberal arts education.

Roman Maciejczyk

Maciejczyk was an enthusiastic contributor to college work details. Left to right: Roman Maciejczyk, Ed Kaye, Bill McLaughlin. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.Fig. 2

One photo of Maciejczyk shows him smiling in the packed cab of a pickup on work detail, and Professor Evarts’ personal memoirs list him right beside Derek Bovingdon as one who was extremely helpful in that work.[2] Indeed, Bovingdon and Maciejczyk come up in many lists right beside each other, and they are reported to have been “well-loved.”[3] It seems that his death struck the campus even harder than Bovingdon’s did – perhaps it was the relatively short time between their deaths – only 8 months – or it may have been that both were so important to the tightly-knit community.

The Black Mountain College Community Bulletin publishes an excerpt from a letter sent by Maciejczyk on Nov 22 1943 – 2 days before his death. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.Fig. 3

During the months immediately prior to his death, Maciejczyk had sent a contribution to the rebuilding of the Service Quarters[4] and a letter updating the community on his progress through training.[5] It is also possible that the similarity between the two deaths was unnerving. Both men had been training as crew members on bombers, and both had lost their lives when their aircraft crashed unexpectedly. It seems that in neither case was their any clear-cut single cause, beyond bad weather.

The second holiday supplement of the Black Mountain College Community Bulletin broke the news of Maciejczyk’s death. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.Fig. 4

The second holiday supplement of the Black Mountain College Community Bulletin in 1943 must have come as a tragic shock to all who received it. After long months of behind-the-scenes wrangling the Derek Bovingdon Memorial fund was finally announced, which as a reminder of his death would have been difficult enough, but in the very next paragraph Maciejczyk’s death is announced and the possibility that the memorial fund will honor two students is mentioned.[6] Maciejczyk stayed connected with his beloved college, as is evident in the previous issue of the Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, which included an excerpt of a letter he had written giving the College an update on his training progress. In it Maciejczyk also mentioned that he had spent some liberty time the previous week in San Francisco with a Black Mountain acquaintance, Paul Radin.[7]

The Black Mountain College Community Bulletin reports on the memorial held for Roman Maciejczyk. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.Fig. 5

As they had done with Derek Bovingdon, the community gathered together to remember Maciejczyk with a memorial service, parts of which are transcribed in the Black Mountain College Community Bulletin. Rector Bob Wunch gave remarks and read excerpts from recent letters written by Rebecca Mangold, who had been a very close friend of Maciejczyk, a trio of students performed a section of Beethoven’s Trio Opus 97, and Jane Robinson Stone read a sonnet that she had written upon learning of Roman’s death entitled “Of Few Days.”[8] It was a most fitting memorial service, one which involved students and faculty demonstrating their ties of friendship through performance and appreciation of art, with hope and fellowship mixed in amongst the solemn grief.


[1] Black Mountain College Papers, Student File Abstracts, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[2] Personal Memoirs of John Evarts, Black Mountain College Research Project,  Box 6, Folder 1, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[3] Mary Emma Harris, “Education in a Time of War,” in The Arts at Black Mountain College (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002).

[4] Correspondence with Roman Maciejczyk, October 11 1943, Theodore and Barbara Dreier Collection, Box 52, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[5] Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 9, November 22 1942, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[6] Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 11, December 6 1943, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[7] Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 9, November 22 1942, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[8] Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 13, January 1943, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 1 Black Mountain College Papers, Student File Abstracts, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 2 Roman Maciejczyk, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 8, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 3 Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 9, November 22 1942, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 4 Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 11, December 6 1943, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 5 Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, Bulletin 13, January 1943, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 27, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

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