Everything is grand about this marshal

Veteran with peculiar connection to Mark Twain to lead Memorial Day Parade

When Francis A. Przygoda was told he would lead the 118th annual Hoboken Memorial Day Parade, he thought it was a joke.
“I said ‘You’re kidding, right? This is April Fools’?” he said between laughs.
Przygoda, a member of the local American Legion Post 107 for roughly seven years, has been living in Hoboken since 1976, recently making 40 years.
He joined the Navy reserves at the age of 17 in 1953 while in high school, and went on active duty during the Korean War. He mostly served as an accountant. Although he didn’t see action firsthand – usually finding himself aboard ships relegated to islands and countries bordering the Caribbean Sea – he says he was always ready to do so.
“If the ship got sent to Korea or they put something in my orders saying ‘You’re going to Japan,’ yeah I would’ve gone. I had no problem, and when I enlisted there was a very good chance I would have to go,” he recalled. “That did not upset me in the least. I was waiting for it.”

“Francis served his country well and he’s been very serving to the veteran and the community as a whole.” – John Carey
The full death toll of the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, is believed to be 1.2 million people. The war began when North Korea forces invaded South Korea in 1950.
The Hoboken Memorial Day Parade, one of the oldest in the state, will be held Wednesday, May 25, five days before Memorial Day on May 30. The parade will start at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. and end at the Elks Lodge at 10th and Washington streets. (For commuters, the 126 and 89 NJ Transit bus routes will detour along Bloomfield/Hudson Streets from 6 to 8 p.m.)
The federal holiday honors those who died while serving in the United States armed forces.

Giving, even after so many years

Pryzgoda, who served for 12 years in the Navy, turned 80 in April, and feels others were more deserving of the honor of grand marshal.
But American Legion Post 107 Commander John Carey disagrees.
“Francis served his country well and he’s been very serving to the veteran and the community as a whole,” said Carey.
The bounty of Pryzgoda’s generosity can be traced to his hometown of Elmira, N.Y.
In 2007, Pryzgoda purchased the Victorian- and Tudor-style house of Jervis Langdon, Mark Twain’s father-in-law.
The 15,000-square-foot upstate New York home was not a keepsake Pryzgoda hoped to attain for himself as a relic of a place frequented by one of America’s most renowned authors and humorists.
“I owned it for about ten minutes,” said Pryzgoda. “Then I deeded it to the Community Arts of Elmira. I knew they had their eyes on it for a while and I was glad to help. Colleges in the area have art classes there, and in order to generate funds, they have proms, rent out to plays, art shows, and other community activities.”
Outside of summer jobs like helping to lay tracks on railroads, the war veteran has served as the treasurer of the First Ward Block Association for 30 years, has been a Republican Hoboken Committeeman for 12, and remains active as a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus at Immaculate Conception in Secaucus and as a parishioner for Sts. Peter and Paul’s Church in Hoboken.
Francis has been married to Augusta Pryzgoda for 53 years. Both have a long record of activism with local community groups, and Augusta Pryzgoda ran for City Council on a reform ticket in the 1990s.
The lifelong member of the Navy League is often seen at events sporting his camera. He maintains several online photography archives. But this upcoming Wednesday, it’ll be him that all the cameras will flash for.

Steven Rodas can be reached at srodas@hudsonreporter.com.

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