OBITUARY

Victor "Vic" Zgiet

March 2, 1928July 19, 2018
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ZGIET, Victor "Vic", 90, on Thursday, July 19, 2018. Beloved husband of the late Mary Ann (nee Dean) Zgiet; loving father of Sharon A. (Andy) Lowenthal and Joan M. (Steve) Degroote; dear grandfather of Jason (Jennifer) Lowenthal, Daniel Lowenthal, Sarah Lowenthal, John Degroote, Thomas Degroote, and Jenny Degroote; great grandfather of Josie, Julie, Joyce, and Freddie; dear son of the late Alexander "Aleksander" and Laura "Wladyslawa" (nee Bronakowska) Zgiet; dear brother of Helen Wooten, and the late, Stanley Zgiet, Hedwig Ciborowsky, and Janet Imperiale.

SERVICES: Visitation from 9am until time of service at 11am on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at KRIEGSHAUSER MORTUARY WEST CHAPEL 9450 Olive Blvd, Olivette. Interment in Calvary Cemetery following reception. Memorial contributions suggested to Hope Hospice.

  • FAMILY

  • Alexander "Aleksander" Zgiet, Father
  • Laura "Wladyslawa" (nee Bronakowska) Zgiet, Mother
  • Mary Ann (nee Dean) Zgiet, Wife
  • Sharon A. (Andy) Lowenthal, Daughter
  • Joan M. (Steve) Degroote, Daughter
  • Jason (Jennifer) Lowenthal, Grandson
  • Josie Lowenthal, Great Granddaughter
  • Julie Lowenthal, Great Granddaughter
  • Joyce Lowenthal, Great Granddaughter
  • Daniel Lowenthal, Grandson
  • Sarah Lowenthal, Granddaughter
  • John (Nora) Degroote, Grandson
  • Freddie Degroote, Great Grandson
  • Thomas Degroote, Grandson
  • Jenny Degroote, Granddaughter
  • Stanley (Pauline) Zgiet, Brother
  • Hedwig (Wally) Ciborowsky, Sister
  • Janet (Joe) Imperiale, Sister
  • Helen (the late Bob) Wootten, Sister
  • PALLBEARERS

  • Sarah Lowenthal
  • Thomas Degroote
  • John Degroote
  • Daniel Degroote
  • Andy Lowenthal
  • Steve Degroote

Services

  • Visitation Tuesday, July 24, 2018
  • Celebration of Life Tuesday, July 24, 2018
REMEMBERING

Victor "Vic" Zgiet

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Mom and Dad in there 20’s! Stylin!

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Biography

Victor Joseph Zgiet was born Friday, March 2, 1928 in Saint Louis Missouri, the fourth of five children born to Alexander "Aleksander" Zgiet and Laura "Wladyslawa Bronakoska" Bronakowski Zgiet. His parents were both immigrants from Poland and married here in the United States in 1915.

Alexander and Laura raised their family of five kids on the city’s north side, at 1541 North 18th street, a duplex that rented for 12 dollars a month. That duplex has given way to progress and a new home now stands on the spot where Vic grew up.

Vic was born right at the time the country was going into the Great Depression, although he was too young to understand the struggles his parents must have had. By the time he was 12 in 1940, his dad was employed as a baker in a retail bakery, his mom worked for Switzer’s Licorice Company, and Vic was in 6th grade. His best friend was Julius Borisuk, a neighborhood kid who lived a block away, and most likely they attended grade school together. Vic and Julius were the same age and the best of friends all their lives. They did the typical things that boys did, the kind of stuff that sometimes summoned the police, like shooting off firecrackers and throwing balls over rooftops and not necessarily knowing or caring where they landed. There is nothing more treasured than a lifelong friend. Julius’ passing in January of 2017 must have saddened Vic greatly.

In 1941 when Vic was 13, America was thrust into World War 2 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As World War 2 was raging, and men went off to war, jobs for younger people were readily available and Vic took advantage of that. Upon graduating from elementary school at 14, the decision was made for Vic to not attend high school but instead enter the workforce to help his mom and dad, and support the household however he could.

In 1948, Vic experienced his first heartbreak when his dad Alexander died quite suddenly in June. Alexander had been visiting a friend in the hospital and as he was leaving he sat down on a bench outside, and simply passed away. Vic was 20 at the time, and recalled the police coming to the door with the news, and the terrible anguish of his mother and sisters. His dad was only 60 years old. Now Vic found himself the man of the house, and his mother, who was 53, depended greatly on him. It seems that from the age of 14, Vic was called upon to carry some very adult burdens. But if he were here, I’m sure he would tell us all that any trials and tribulations that he experienced gave him a solid foundation for the responsibilities of marriage and family, and a humble sense of gratitude that he was there for them.

Later that year, one of Vic’s cousins introduced him to Mary Ann Dean, a pretty brunette who grew up less than a mile from Vic on Montgomery Street. One of his greatest regrets was that his dad never had a chance to meet Mary Ann. He knew his dad would have loved her. They had fun going out on dates to the Fox Theatre where for 25 cents they could gain admission for the whole day and watch as many movies as they wanted. During intermission, they would be entertained by the great Stan Khan, who would play the giant Wurlitzer organ as it rose up out of the footboards in front of the stage. At that time, before television, the most popular radio program was Amos n’ Andy. No matter what you had on your schedule that day, kids and parents alike made sure they were home and near the radio when the show came on. So as not to lose patrons, the Fox Theatre would actually suspend the movie for 30 minutes while it broadcast Amos n’ Andy.

After four years of dating, Mary Ann and Vic were married in 1952 and lived at first with Mary Ann’s parents at 2306 Montgomery. They welcomed their first born, Sharon in 1958. Four more years would go by before they brought Joan home to her big sister in 1962. Sharon had begged her parents for a little sister and, being the good parents they were, they delivered! Two years later Mary Ann and Vic, bought their home at 539 Candle Light Lane in Hazelwood.

To support his family Vic worked different jobs. He repaired watches for one of the jewelers in the Arcade Building. He worked in a restaurant and loved to tell the story of the time a brush fell into a vat of chili, and his bosses simply told him to fish the brush out and save the chili.

But it was a momentous day in 1965 when, as Mary Ann and Vic and the girls were just leaving for church, the phone rang. It was a man from Eastern Airlines. Vic had submitted an application and they wanted to interview him. He told the man he was just leaving for church and the man told him, go to church and call me back when you get home. Vic did just that. He went in that Sunday afternoon and was hired. I think we all know what he offered his Mass for that day! From that day, and for 25 years, Vic was a proud and loyal employee of Eastern Airlines, a job he loved and valued. He was a cleaner, replenishing the water supplies, emptying the lavatory holds, and making sure the aircraft were spic and span for the next flight. It was not just a job to Vic, it was a mission. He was very aware of the part he played in the reputation and success of Eastern Airlines.

Commercial flying in the 60’s and 70’s was such an event, and almost a destination in itself! Men dressed in suits and women wore their finest clothes to fly. Vic’s employment with Eastern Airlines afforded him the opportunity to take his family to some pretty great places. When most of us were taking road trips in the family car, the four Zgiets were jetting off to faraway destinations. Sharon and Joan remember dressing in their best and heading off for vacations in California, Seattle, Montreal, and even Hawaii. Eastern was the official airline of this new and exciting place called Disneyworld, so Orlando was an absolute must!

For her part, Mary Ann was at home with the girls when they were little. However when Eastern had a strike, Mary Ann signed up for temp work and was placed with Falstaff Brewery which turned into a fulltime position. She later worked as a bookkeeper for City Lighting. The girls grew up in a warm and nurturing home, with parents who rejoiced in their achievements. Family was the most important thing to Vic. He and Mary Ann socialized with their sisters and brothers and their spouses, and the girls have sweet memories of visiting the grandma Zgiet on Sundays. The visits to grandma’s usually included Krakow Polish sausage from Piekutowski’s, served with French bread, and little glass bottles of Coke. Great memories.

As you may be able to tell by all the paraphernalia here today, Vic was a huge Cardinal baseball fan, Vic really enjoyed listening to the Cardinals on the radio. As a kid, he spent time at the old Sportsman’s Park watching the St. Louis Browns. A very special moment of Vic’s life came when he met Jack Buck during a “fan on the street” interview. The best estimate as to when the interview took place somewhere between 1958 and 1963. During the interview, Jack Buck asks Vic how he thought the Cardinals were doing, and who his favorite player is. He replied that Stan Musial was his favorite. The coolest thing about this story is that they have a recording of it. KMOX pressed a record with the interview and gave it to Vic. That treasured souvenir has become a cherished family keepsake. Not only that, through a little detective work, we have discovered that it’s quite rare, and the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Historical Society, and The Baseball Hall of Fame are interested in seeing and hearing the record.

If you knew Vic, you knew Vic loved people. He enjoyed meeting new people and would go out of his way to strike up a conversation with a stranger. The girls affectionately recalled how, on their vacations, their dad could be found in the hotel lobby, chatting with the doorman, and learning all about his life. He was genuinely interested in other people, but it never came off as prying. His sincerity was real and disarming. Even at Brookdale, he was the guy who sat near the front door and said “How ya doing?” to everyone that walked by.

As the girls grew, his pride in their accomplishments was always front and center. Sharon said if he got talking about his girls you had better have an hour to listen. He delighted in sharing with anyone who would listen that Joan is a neonatal nurse, and Sharon is an accountant, (that test she had to take was HARD!) He was very pleased with the men they married. During a discussion over wedding plans, Steve joked that maybe Vic should just leave a ladder against the house so he and Joan could elope, and Vic replied, I’ll just leave the front door unlocked! Mary Ann didn’t think this was funny. ;) He was proud of Andy and Steve’s accomplishments, too, and of all his grandchildren. Take just a minute to look at Vic’s life through his eyes and you can sense the joy and gratitude he must have felt, to come from such humble beginnings, with immigrant parents that came to America for opportunity and to take part in the American Dream. He worked hard, married for love and had two beautiful daughters, and from those daughters grew two families that gladdened his heart every day of his life. He was blessed, and he knew it, although he liked to joke that between his wife and his daughters, his funds were often depleted, and he liked to say, “When I was single my pockets would jingle.”

It was right about 1987 that Vic decided to retire from Eastern. He could see the writing on the wall with all the turmoil the airline was going through. He had put in 25 years with them and it felt right.

Throughout their marriage, Vic doted on Mary Ann. Mary Ann had contracted TB right after they were married, and breathing issues were always a concern. Vic never wanted Mary Ann to exert herself, and if the vacuuming needed to be done, and he was home, he did it. He loved her so much. His greatest heartbreak came when his Mary Ann died in 1989 at the all too young age of 59. Vic himself was only 60 but for the rest of his life he remained single and never dated anyone. Mary Ann was it. She was irreplaceable.

After retirement and losing Mary Ann, Vic needed something to keep him busy. The girls were married and raising families of their own. So, he got a job as a school crossing guard near Armstrong School on Howdershell Road. That was right up his alley. He got to talk with the kids every day. They grew to know and love him. He’d be interested in their days, and in return they made cards for him for special occasions. This must have brought him great happiness. There were regular motorists who knew Vic and would give him gift cards during the holidays as a sign of appreciation for his dedication. He especially liked being in close communication with the police officers. It made him feel like he was on their team. He was a crossing guard for twenty years! Think about that. All those kids who saw him every day, so many of them are adults now. He was a part of their day, every day they went to school. Surely his influence made an impact in their lives and one can only imagine the lovely things they would have to say about Vic the Crossing Guard if they were here today.

Before his last hospital stay, Vic could be found near the front door of Brookdale Assisted Living, greeting everyone that walked by, and just a week ago yesterday, he and Steve watched the home run derby on TV in his room. When it became apparent that Vic wasn’t going to bounce back from this most recent health setback, hospice was called in. Even the hospice nurse, upon seeing that her patient was Vic, shared with the girls that she recognized him as the man who always said hi at the front door. Sharon told her dad to hold on as long as he could, past Wednesday July 18, because she didn’t want him to pass on what would be Joan’s birthday, and we have to believe he obliged. The next day, Thursday, July 19, 2018, Victor Joseph Zgiet passed from this world and entered into the joy of God’s Kingdom. After he passed, as a final act of love for her dad, Joan read the sports page to him.

The family wishes to extend its profound gratitude to Vic’s nurses Ben and Eric, the ladies at the desk, and the rest of the staff at Brookdale for the unfailing care and support they gave to Vic.

Vic Zgiet was quite simply, a happy guy. It didn’t take much to make him happy; a good conversation, some Benny Goodman music, baseball on the radio, and Rold Gold pretzels and beer to snack on. He loved his wife, and his girls and their families. If I may paraphrase Proverbs 31: Victor Joseph Zgiet was a noble soul. His children and his children’s children will rise up and call him blessed.

When asked of Sharon and Joan what they wanted all of us to take away from their dad’s life, they said, Be Like Vic. Take pride in your work. Don’t hold grudges. Be interested in people. Watch a baseball game. Pay it forward. Take care of those you love. Have some pretzels and beer. Na zdrowie!