Arti Polchinski

Arti Polchinski, a physical education aide at Hector P. Garcia Elementary, died Tuesday after battling an undisclosed illness, according to the Temple Independent School District.

Arti Polchinski, a physical education aide at Hector P. Garcia Elementary, died Tuesday after battling an undisclosed illness, according to the Temple Independent School District.

He was 61.

Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott — who told the Telegram that Polchinski’s death was “one of the hardest things” he’s ever seen — highlighted the beloved educator’s presence within the district.

“Arti was the dictionary definition of a true Wildcat and community supporter,” Ott said in a statement. “He loved our children and school district the way you are supposed to love one another. His kindness, his hugs and his gentle spirit will always remain a part of this community and our Wildcat family. Temple ISD and Hector P. Garcia Elementary will continue to support his family through this most difficult time.”

The Temple Quarterback Club, Temple High’s official football booster club, alluded to Polchinski’s passion for his community.

“Our condolences to the Polchinski family on the passing of our dear friend Arti. Arti’s smile and heart of gold for youth in this community will forever be missed,” the Temple Quarterback Club said in a Tweet. “Please keep Arti’s family in your thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace our friend.”

Avery Polchinski, Arti’s son, expressed his gratitude for those in the Temple community who have continuously supported his father and family during their time of need.

“We cannot say it enough as to just how thankful we are for everyone who was in this group, who prayed everyday, who donated to our GoFundMe, who reached out to check on us, who brought us food, etc.,” Avery Polchinski said in a Facebook post. “You all have been incredible. I know my dad loved every single one of you.”

Visitation is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the Regina Caeli room at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, while funeral services will begin at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1018 S. Seventh St. in Temple.

 “We ask for continued prayers for our family and for my dad still that he finds peace as he is crossing over,” he said.

Temple ISD spokesman Jon Wallin — who noted that Polchinski was absent from campus this year as he battled an illness — said counselors will be made available for students, families and staff.