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TOPIC: John Pytlak Illness Since September 4

Re: John Pytlak Illness Since September 4 19 Aug 2007 08:58 #15871

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Thanks John for making how we show the movies around the world every so much Better.

My Deepest Condolances.


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Re: John Pytlak Illness Since September 4 19 Aug 2007 14:27 #15872

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Thank you so much Anne for taking the time to inform us of this very sad event. John will be missed very much by all of us. My deepest Condolences to you and your family.

I would like to share this from The Sun in Hamburg New York.

Former Angola resident reflects on an award-winning 40 year career in film

For John Pytlak, it all began with a small purchase some 50 years ago.

"I bought a kit to process pictures when I was like nine years old. It just sort of came natural to me."

And so with one choice five decades ago, Pytlak began a journey that would take him from his beginnings at Lake Shore High School — where he was the class valedictorian in 1966 — all around the world as he built a career as one of the leaders in the film industry.

Tragically, John Pytlak was diagnosed in September 2006 with cancer of the small intestine. The inoperable disease was a death sentence for a man who rightfully had decades of living yet to do.

But in a manner that doesn't surprise those who know him, Pytlak has refused to let his lot in life stop him.

Even as his cancer enters the final stage, he has continued to work from his home, stay in contact with his industry friends and colleagues, and is reluctant to focus on the cancer that will soon cut his life short.

Instead, with passion and enthusiasm in his voice, Pytlak, who now lives in Penfield, would prefer to talk about how fortunate he has been and the many wonderful opportunities life has given him.

"I may not have had a long life...but I've had a productive life."
A life that began right here in Western New York.
Local beginnings

After graduating at the top of his class at Lake Shore, where among other things, he was the photography editor for the yearbook all four years, Pytlak enrolled at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he majored in electrical engineering.
"From the time I can remember, I wanted to be an electrical engineer."

Like most college kids, Pytlak needed a job. As fate would have it, the student that he carpooled to UB with had a father who was the manager at the Grandview Drive-In in Angola.

"I worked as a projectionist at the Grandview from 1967-1970, and it was a wonderful experience," he said.

Though Pytlak was a young college kid on a summer job, it was one he took very seriously, and one that set the stage for his future career.

"I was fooling around, and I made a transmitter to use AM radio."
At the time, the theater utilized the speakers fed into the car window as the means for listening to the movie. But Pytlak's creation allowed the Grandview to become one of the first drive-in's in New York with radio capability.

"It allowed us to expand quite a bit," Pytlak explained.
The Grandview had 400 spaces for cars, but due to the high cost, only 200 speakers. Pytlak's radio system changed that, and the Grandview flourished, leading, in part, to the furor being raised today over its proposed demolition.

Pytlak also worked as a projectionist at the New Angola Theatre during his college career. Both jobs fed his bug for film, and he applied for a position at Eastman Kodak in Rochester.

When he first applied, Pytlak said it was , "a slow hiring time," but eventually, Kodak came calling, and in June of 1970, the UB graduate and aspiring electrical engineer joined the film giant. It proved to be a wise decision for the 22-year-old.

Pytlak spent his first 20 years at Kodak working in product development. As a 'behind the scenes guy,' he was constantly working to develop new, innovative ways to improve film, and ultimately the theater experience.

His work saw Pytlak travel the world, taking his expertise to Tokyo, Beijing, England, Germany, France, Finland, and beyond.

"I got to meet a lot of very interesting people along the way, and I've gotten to travel the world, and mostly, I just enjoyed what I did."

Pytlak said one of his most satisfying experiences was traveling to Beijing, China, and seeing one of his inventions being used overseas.

"That was kind of a thrill...I realized, I've really had a worldwide impact here. "

While most of his travels saw him working in the labs, he did have occasion to meet his share of celebrities and taste the Hollywood life.

"I got the chance to hobnob with a lot of the industry insiders, especially at the conventions," he said.

He also shared a story of his first visit to a live filming on set.
"I spent a day on the set of Little House on the Prairie, and got to see them film an episode, which was an experience."

As a leader of many development teams at Kodak, John Pytlak had the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects aimed at improving various aspects of film, and for his work, he has been widely recognized throughout the industry.
Front and center on his mantle, are two awards that Pytlak said mean the most to him and best demonstrate what his career has been about.

"In 2001, I received a Technical Achievement Award for my work developing a system that helps laboratories improve color in their pictures."

Pytlak's development of the Laboratory Aim Density System was a highlight of his career, and put him on a stage in California with his two daughters watching from the audience as actress Renee Zellweger presented Pytlak with his award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Pytlak called the moment, "very thrilling," and said it was gratifying to be recognized for his work at Kodak.

"I've had good people to work with my entire career, and I was fortunate to be the leader on some major projects."

Pytlak followed up his Academy Award by being named the 2003 winner of the EPA Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award.
The EPA recognized Pytlak and Kodak for his development of PTR film cleaning technology, which utilizes a system of rollers to clean the film, eliminating the need to use ozone-damaging chemicals to clean the film.

"It (the PTR technology) greatly cut back the use of the solvents, which were going into the atmosphere."

Pytlak said a study conducted estimated that the process saved over 1 million pounds of ozone depleting solvents from being used.

"We (Kodak) gave away the technology, because we felt it was good for the environment. "

Pytlak's technology for film cleaning is used worldwide, with every IMAX theater using the PTR Rollers to clean their films.

Pytlak's work at Kodak, and the prestigious awards he has received, are par for the course for a man who's bosses speak glowingly of.

Frank Pettrone, Pytlak's direct supervisor at Kodak, lauded him as a man with "strength and courage."

"John's passion is not only film, but the people who use Kodak products and services," Pettrone said.

"John would help the smallest customer to the largest with the same attention to detail and care."

Frank Ricotta, another of Pytlak's supervisors at Kodak, called him "an exemplary individual and a wonderful family man; one of the most gentlemanly individuals that I have ever met."

With his cancer diagnosis came the reality for John Pytlak that his life was going to be cut short. Faced with the inability to eat solid food (he has not had a bite to eat since January) and the increasing difficulty in swallowing liquid, Pytlak knows the end is near. Yet with the class and dignity his family and friends know so well, John Pytlak is facing the end of his life head-on and not backing down from his final fight.

"People ask me...aren't you upset? I've always been an optimistic person, and sure, I would have liked to have lived to be 90, but you can see the wide variety of people I've been able to help through my career."

That help continues today. Even in the final stage of his cancer, Pytlak does what he can, working to talk to customers on line, and keep up to speed with the industry that he has been a part of for the last 40 years.

Asked what the keys to his positive outlook on life are, especially in the face of such adversity, Pytlak said, "My reputation has always been that I'm an upbeat, cheery guy."
"I've got a great family, two wonderful daughters, and I've basically lived a great life."

To that end, one of Pytlak's daughters, Katie, called her father, "an inspiration," and someone who is, "handling the dying process with such grace. "

Katie said, growing up, her dad was incredibly supportive and encouraging to both her and her sister Annie, and said, "his passion for life is amazing."

"He just tries to embrace life to the fullest, and cherishes every day. I hope that I can be the parent he was for me."

To see the incredible, far-reaching impact Pytlak has had on the film industry, you only needs to jump online and "Google" his name, and see and hear from the thousands of people he has touched throughout his career.

From small town Angola, Pytlak journeyed around the world and seemed to leave the people he met a little better off for having known him.

As the credits prepare to roll on the life of John Pytlak, his boss Frank Pettrone offered up a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the film industry.

Borrowing from the movie Braveheart, Pettrone summed up his feelings toward his friend and colleague by saying:
"Every man dies. Not every man really lives. John really lived...and now he is teaching us how to die...we all admire and love him."

[This message has been edited by sevstar (edited August 19, 2007).]
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Re: John Pytlak Illness Since September 4 19 Aug 2007 21:26 #15873

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I just returned from vacation this evening, only to find the sadest of sad news.

What a wonderful man John was. He will be missed so much by all. He will be remembered always by everyone that has ever had the opporunity to have either met him or have read his posts.

My sincerest and heartfelt condolences to all of his family and friends.
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Re: John Pytlak Illness Since September 4 22 Aug 2007 14:34 #15874

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Sad indeed...

Any ideas how one could setup a award in his name for students? wonder if Kodak would be willing?

I for one will miss his emails. Always informative and upbeat even when he shouldn't have been. That really says it all!

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