Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients 2011



1946 - XXX


Fred Kuhar was inspired by the music of Johnny Pecon to organize his own successful Cleveland-style orchestra which he led for 38 years. He preserved the Pecon legacy through his own playing and by restoring and releasing recordings of Johnny with Lou Trebar. Fred also was the founding President of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum.


Fred taught himself the accordion by replaying Johnny Pecon records as a youngster in Wickliffe, Ohio. His style picked up the sophistication and subtlety and of Pecon’s classic sound. The Fred Kuhar Orchestra, featuring brother Pete on the clarinet and sax, performed from 1967 to 2005. The group’s 28 bus tours brought Slovenian-American music to places like Ironworld in Minnesota, Seven Springs, Nashville and Hilton Head. The band recorded five albums and, in 1992, was the first Cleveland-based polka band to issue a compact recording. For his Classic Records label, Fred produced seven CDs of live performances by Pecon and Trebar.


Fred led the Polka Hall of Fame through its formative years from 1990 to 1999. He initiated the program to transfer the archive’s recordings to digital formats for preservation. Fred’s background as an attorney and CPA serves him in the community for duties such as president of the Slovene Home for the Aged, Law School Advisory Council at Notre Dame, and as a trustee of Mater Dei Academy.




Inducted in 2011




1942 - XXX


Every time he picks up his accordion and plays, Hank Thunander pays tribute to his idol, Frank Yankovic. For nearly half a century, Hank has led one of the top Cleveland-Style polka bands in the Upper Midwest. Fans enjoy his energetic polka sound, but Hank also can put across a big-band, light-rock or country tune. His versatility has earned him frequent invitations to festivals, clubs and ballrooms with an average of 300 appearances a year.


Hank was raised in the Gogebic Range of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the border of Minnesota’s Iron Range. As a youngster he was fascinated with Yankovic’s happy music and took up the accordion. A dream came true when, at age 10, America’s Polka King brought Hank on stage to play along with him. Hank led bands in high school and the Army before settling in St. Paul, Minnesota. Another dream was realized in 1970, when he was invited to record with Yankovic. Since then, Hank has released eight albums of his own.


Some of the entertainers he accompanied include Lawrence Welk favorites Myron Floren and Joann Castle. From 1972 to 1981, Hank hosted a weekly radio show on WMIN, featuring Slovenian-style polkas. He organized polka tours to Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Alaska. For his contributions to music, Hank has been honored by the Ironwood Hall of Fame, the Michigan Polka Music Hall of Fame, and the Minnesota Accordion Club. He received the Lifetime Award from the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame.





Inducted in 2011






1937 - XXX




Bob Timko took his “Sound of Timko” around the world as one of the hottest Cleveland-style bands in the polka charged 1970's. The accordionist hosted some of the first polka tours and made history playing the very first Polka Mass. Timko’s Polka Place was a top Cleveland dance destination. 


He grew up in Cleveland’s largely Slovenian St. Clair neighborhood where Polka Hall of Famers Cecilia Dolgan and Dick Flaisman were playmates. Bob took up the accordion at age five with Joe Princie. Joe Trolli, Frank Yankovic’s music arranger and composer, taught Bob to recognize perfect pitch and to play from the heart. In 1955, Kenny Bass asked him to join his Polka Poppers. Bob appeared on nearly all of his albums and on Kenny’s television show, as well the syndicated “Polka Varieties” and in the 1964 film, One Potato, Two Potato.


Bob organized his own group and their first release, “The Sound of Timko,” was the hit album of 1970. Two more recordings followed. Radio host Tony Petkovsek invited him to play the first polka tour to Hawaii. The band accompanied the first Polka Mass, celebrated by Father George Balasko on Memorial Day, 1972, in Lowellville, Ohio. Subscribers to the Polkarama monthly named his orchestra America’s favorite polka band in 1975 and 1976.


Spurred by success, Bob opened his popular night spot. He helped revive the PolKats Club for Cleveland musicians. The band played around the country until his move to Florida in 1979. Bob has made several comeback appearances.




Inducted in 2011




Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient List

In November of each year, the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame honors Lifetime Achievers in Cleveland-Style Polka:


Avsenik, Slavko
Trumpet Echo Polka
Bashell, Louie
Vienna Forever
Bass, Kenny
Lake Erie Polka
Bright, Roger
Squeeze Your Accordeen
Cook, Georgie
Five Points Polka
Dolgan, Cecilia "Cilka"
Roses of Love
Fedorchak, Joe

             Blue Lady Polka

Flaisman's Polka


Glasbena Matica    
Gregorich, Fred
Cheese and Crackers
Grkman, Joe
Comrades Polka
Habat, Eddie
Hambone Habat Polka
Haller, Hank
Say Thank You Dear.....
Hoyer, Matt
Trboveljska Polka
Jardran Singing Society
Mi Slovenci  taki smo
Kenik, Eddie
Kamnik Polka
Sailock's Polka
Kobal, Norm
Emily's Waltz
Lausche, William "Doc"

Moja Dekle

Markic, Al
Frenchy's Polka
Marsic, Dusan "Duke"
Hofbrauhaus Polka
Meisner, Verne
Polka "76"
Meisner, Steve    
Miskulin, Joey
Mis-Tre Polka
Novak, Frank
Novak's Polka
Ostanek, Walter
Ostanek's Polka
Pecon, Johnny
Pecon's Polka
Perko, Art

Peanuts Polka


Perkovich, Frank Fr.    
Petkovsek, Tony
Tony P's Trideset Polka
Possedi, Roman
Polka Pearl
Pugliano, Sam
Sam's Polka Party
Slap Happy Polka
Seibert, Gary
Swingstreet Polka
Sinchak, Del
Roseann Polka
Slak, Lojze
Zivio Polka
Sluga, Ron
Hot Tamale Polka
Sodja, Dick
Fancy Fingers Polka
Spetich, Frankie
Ponytail Polka
Staiduhar, George
Polka Hall of Fame Polka
Tady, Dick
It's Polka Time
Tady, Jack
Murone's Polka
Tercek, Al
Fritz's Polka
Timlo, Bob    
Trebar, Lou
My Ann Waltz
Vadnal, Anna
Flower of Love Waltz
Vadnal, Frank
Happy Guitar
Vadnal, Johnny
Wayside Polka
Vadnal, Richie
Polka Your Troubles Away
Vadnal, Tony
Teach Me How to Yodel
Vallus, Eddie    
Yanchar, Paul
Powder Your Face with Sunshine
Yankovic, Frank
Cherry Polka
Zagger, Jake
Zaggar's Polka
Zarja Singing Society
Fred Zwich
Bionic Button Box Polka