New Castle News

February 10, 2014

Travelin’ man: Age doesn’t deter 96-year-old New Castle native from seeing the world

David Burcham
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The world has been Adam Pivovar’s playpen for almost a century.

Pivovar has seen and done things that most Americans can only see in their dreams or on the National Geographic Channel.

But even as his eyesight diminishes from macular degeneration, the 96-year-old South New Castle Borough man isn’t ready to alter a lifestyle that has taken him to the far corners of the earth.

From the dense jungles and intense heat of Borneo to sub-zero conditions of Alaska and Siberia, weather conditions have never been an obstacle in choosing a destination.

Facing challenges that would be demanding for someone half his age, the adventurous Pivovar remains enthusiastic in his quest for knowledge.

He has stood beside the great Pyramids in Egypt, walked along China’s Great Wall, viewed Buddhist temples in Mongolia, photographed Komodo dragons from just a few feet away in Borneo, visited a village in Greenland that wasn’t discovered until 1900 and observed the Terracotta Warriors — the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China, unearthed by archaeologists in 1974.


Pivovar traveled through 13 time zones during his Borneo visit in 2012. He has been to Poland — the land of his parents — 13 times and Mexico City on 14 occasions. In between, there were journeys to Russia, Finland, Germany, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Panama, Portugal, Quebec, Mongolia and the Gobi Desert.

Along the way, he has spoken with peoples from different cultures, races and religions, taking pictures of and with them. He’s used one of his many talents to make balloon animals for children throughout the world.

“Every place is different and has its own charm,” Pivovar said.

One of the “charms” of Borneo was sleeping in a hut built on stilts to protect Pivovar and his guide from Borneo’s boa constrictors. In North Borneo, Pivovar made his way to three small islands, traveling by small boat.

Even more amazing is that Pivovar, whose second wife, Josephine, passed away in 2005, almost always travels alone.


Pivovar spoke only Polish as a child. His parents arrived from their native land in the early 1900s.

“I didn’t know any English words until first grade,” said Pivovar, who remains fluent in Polish. He stuttered as a child, which Pivovar attributes to not having command of English at the time.

But Pivovar quickly adapted to schooling in America and excelled in the classroom. He graduated from New Castle High and Youngstown College, majoring in chemistry.

He worked on the railroad as a conductor yard master, retiring in 1980. In had other ventures, running a music store in Ellwood City and operating a photography studio for 35 years.

He still plays guitar in a band as music runs in the family. His son, Ron, is one of the world’s premier accordion players.

Pivovar, who has two sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild, stays fit by exercising. He used to make regular stops at the downtown YMCA, but those visits have decreased with age.

Pivovar is an inquisitive sort. “I’ve always wondered how things work,” he said.


Despite his vision problems, Pivovar is still able to drive. “Everything is starting to wear out, but what are you gonna do?” he shrugged.

His memory, which seems amazing by any standard, also weighs heavily on him. “I’m starting to forget things.”

And for Pivovar, there is so much to forget.

What’s next?

“I’d like to go to New Guinea,” he said. The relatively unexplored country is home to millions of people who live in isolated rural villages and maintain traditional practices that, by many reports, sometimes include cannibalism.

“I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime, but I’m not done seeing things yet.”