Jan Wladyslaw Stepek 1922-2012.

Stepeks First store opening 1959-60.WMjpg

STEPEK’S

JAN Stepek was one of the most remarkable examples of an immigrant’s ability to survive and prosper in a foreign land, in his case Scotland. He was born on a farm in Maczkowce, Poland, on 13th September 1922 and his early years, during which his father Wladyslaw and mother Janina struggled to bring up their three children Jan, Zofia and Danuta, were happy ones.
This hard but happy childhood was shattered in September 1939, when Poland was caught in a pincer movement. The Nazi invasion from the west was bad enough, then Stalin sent the Red Army in from the east. Wladyslaw was on a Red Army “hit list” of potential resistance leaders, so he fled to Southern Poland. Jan was never to see his father, who died from cancer in 1943, again.

Stepeks Store late 60s WM..JPG

Jan later enlisted in the Polish army but was struck down by typhus and had to leave for a short time. He recovered, rejoined the Polish army, but in early 1943, training in Basra, he contracted a tropical illness in Iraq, so he transferred to the Polish navy.

In February 1943 he sailed for Liverpool, before first setting foot in Scotland when sent to Kirkcaldy for training, then moving to Plymouth for further training as a radar operator.
He studied electronics at the Royal College in Glasgow and also undertook an agricultural course, before putting his war-time radar training to good use, buying parts and repairing radios. He quickly established a reputation as a reliable radio mechanic. At this time he also met, courted and in 1949 married a Rutherglen girl, Teresa Murphy. With her support, he entered the television supply business in 1952.

In 1960, a year after he took out British citizenship, the Stepeks moved to Hamilton and he branched out into car sales, travel agencies, property and financial services, while his name became known beyond his business heartland of Lanarkshire and Glasgow, through his company’s STV advertisements in association with other independent electrical retailers, Glen’s, Robertson’s and Hutchison’s.

Stepek WM..JPG

In 1970 he was invited to join the board of Hamilton Academical and almost immediately he was plunged into a battle for survival as he helped stave off the advances of Clyde, who wanted to merge the two clubs. Accies were struggling at the foot of the old Second Division; Mr Stepek became chairman and set about taking Accies to the Premier League. In 1987, having achieved that aim, he stepped down as chairman, to become honorary president of the club.

He suffered three strokes in 2002, when aged 80, but recovered and was soon back on the golf course and tending his garden, before the ill-health which blighted his final two years forced him to stop.

Stepek Last PictureWM.

Jan died 26 October 2012, Sadly his wife Teresa died less than a month after Jan, going into a coma less than a week after his funeral. He is survived by his 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

One of his sons, Martin Stepek contacted Historic Hamilton and kindly donated some family pictures. This is his story:

“Hi, there are three photos of our family business shop in Quarry St. The slightly torn one is the mid to late 1960s and the middle one is when it first opened in 1959 or 1960. The last pic is my Dad (left) with I think Larry Marshall and definitely Jimmy Logan on the right. These two were at the height of their fame so caused a bit of a stir when Dad managed to get them to come and open the Quarry St shop.”

In the days before large super markets dominated the High Street Stepek’s was the place that you went to buy or rent your TV. I can recall walking into the store, looking around and seeing all of these amazing electrical objects like food blenders and American fridge freezers etc, the store was massive.

Once again I would like to thank Martin Stepek for sharing his father’s photos. They are a real snapshot in time and it allows our young people of Hamilton to gain a small insight into how a real family business was set up and ran in the town.

Stepek’s first shop in Hamilton.

 

Stepeks First store opening 1959-60.WMjpg.JPG

In the picture, we have the very first Stepek’s shop opened in Quarry Street in 1959. Jan Stepek who at the age of 37 is in the picture (Far Left) and this was sent to us by Jan’s son Martin Stepek. Look out for Jan Wladyslaw Stepek’s story coming soon.

THE MIGHTY ACCIES WIN THE SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION AND ARE HOUNERD BY THE TOWN IN MAY 1986.

Accies & Whitehill Pipeband.

Hamilton honoured their champions in May 1986 when the district council held a civic reception and dinner to mark Hamilton Accies achievement in winning the Scottish first division title.
Accies Fan..JPG
 
Accies players and officials paraded the trophy through the streets from Douglas Park to the Town Hall, where a crowd of over 1000 people were waiting to greet them. The provost of the time Sam Casserly spoke of the club’s achievement, as did Ian Gellalty, president of the Scottish League.
 
The trophy was then displayed to the crowd from the Town hall Balcony before the players and other guests went inside to dinner. After the dinner, Mr Casserly passed on the district councils congratulations to the club and he presented the chairman Jan Stepek with an inscribed Silver Salver.
 
Hamilton’s Labour MP George Robertson also spoke and commented: “After six years of opposition it’s lovely to be on the winning side!” George Robertson added “The success of Hamilton Accies is a success for the whole community of Hamilton. This will do much for the reputation and image of the area.”
Accies Bus..JPG
 
Accies manager John Lambie and managing director David Morrison thanked the council on behalf of the club.
Jan Stepek, Accied cup win..JPG
 
Mr Stepek then presented a mirror bearing the Club Crest to the Council. A highlight of the afternoon was a recording of two songs written by supporters Dave Marshall and Jim Irons to honour the club’s performance.
Accies Crowd..JPG
 
Did you attend the parade in May 1986? If you did, then let us know or even better, Share your pictures.