Tony Radwanski, an East Torresdale resident who had long stints as a city worker and popular singer at La Casa Di Lucia, died suddenly last week while at his vacation home in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was 66, and it’s believed he died of a heart attack.
Radwanski is survived by his wife of 43 years, Kathy Stampone Radwanski.
A Facebook tribute posted by Stampone Law said of the family’s late cousin, “Tony was elected to the ‘Good Guy Hall of Fame’ on the first ballot, unanimously.”
Funeral services have not been set.
Radwanski was a lifelong Philadelphian. He lived in Bridesburg, Northwood, Bustleton and Tacony before settling in East Torresdale in the mid-1990s.
A 1970 graduate of Frankford High School, he earned a political science degree from Temple University.
In 1973, he worked on the campaign of Democrat Bill Klenk, who upset Republican City Controller Tom Gola. Klenk hired him as an investigator, and he started at the controller’s office in January 1974, taking night classes at Temple.
Over the years, Radwanski worked for six controllers. After Klenk left to run for mayor in 1979, Gene Cliett became acting controller. Tom Leonard was elected that year but resigned to run for mayor in 1983. Jack Smithyman served in an acting capacity until Joe Vignola was elected. When Vignola left to run for the U.S. Senate in 1988, Smithyman returned in an acting role. Jonathan Saidel was elected in 1989.
A former Northwood Civic Association treasurer and 23rd Ward Democratic committeeman, Radwanski was among 14 candidates in the 1979 primary in the 6th Councilmanic District. Mayor Frank L. Rizzo threw his support to Joan Krajewski, who easily won the primary. Radwanski spent no money and finished in the middle of the pack.
While not in elected office, he rose the ranks in the controller’s office, serving as chief of special investigations, director of special investigations and first deputy controller in 2000.
In all, he worked for the controller’s office for 32 years, retiring when Saidel left office at the end of 2005, but only after he held instructional seminars for the campaigns of Alan Butkovitz and Hillel Levinson, who were vying to succeed Saidel.
Saidel loved listening to Radwanski sing Frank Sinatra tunes and described him as a calming influence in the controller’s office.
“He made me look good for 16 years,” he said. “He was a good man. Nobody could say a bad word about him, and he never said a bad word about anybody.”
Radwanski did not stay retired for long, as he began working as City Council communications director under Council President Anna Verna from 2006-12, leaving soon after Verna retired.
The Philadelphia Inquirer once named him “Best in the Business.” Philadelphia Weekly called him “Best of the Best.”
Radwanski was a member of the Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame steering committee and East Torresdale Historical Society, past president of the Glen Foerd Conservation Corps and sung jazz, American standards and oldies every Saturday night as “Tony Rad” at La Casa Di Lucia, a restaurant at 14425 Bustleton Ave. He also often sung for charities.
Dining Car owner Nancy Morozin met the Radwanskis as customers. She served on the Hall of Fame committee with Tony and would head to La Casa Di Lucia once a month to hear him sing.
“I’m so heartbroken,” she said. “It’s such a loss. If you knew him, he was your friend. That was the kind of gentleman he was. He was one of the greatest human beings I ever met.”
Bob McCusker was friends with Radwanski for 15 years. McCusker and his wife, Donna, were close to Tony and Kathy Radwanski, often vacationing together. McCusker, who also sings at La Casa Di Lucia, recalls Radwanski once canceling a gig with Harry Connick Jr. so he could volunteer to sing at a benefit for the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation.
“He was a great guy, a great singer and a great friend,” McCusker said. “I’m going to miss him.” ••