March 22, 1938 – March 7, 2020
Zigmund Leszczynski was born on March 22, 1938 and passed away on March 7, 2020.
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March 26, 2020
I have many wonderful memories with Zig from our time on Staten Island and our move to New Jersey up until I graduated high school. Here are just a few:
Digging for antique bottles in the old dumps on Staten Island
Snake hunting in the Pine Barrens
Snake hunting in Okeetee, SC with the crew from the Staten Island Zoo
Our living room lined with fish tanks with the most exotic fish from around the world
An owl living in our kitchen, snakes upstairs, tarantulas, iguanas, chameleons, and just about everything you can think of
Hiking to Sunfish Pond with the first raccoon we raised running along behind us
Going to an away basketball game my junior year in HS and finding the missing corn snake...in my gym bag on top of my uniform!
How many kids get to claim a childhood filled with these kinds of experiences? I was able to because of Zig, and I will forever be grateful for it. He gave me an understanding and an appreciation of nature that I have carried with me to this day. Every time I see a snake or scuba dive on a coral reef, Zig will be there with me.
March 24, 2020
Here’s a story in which Zig-as-father is nicely shown. Zig had located tree frogs he wanted to photograph. Not Spring Peepers, which were easily found. Something else. It was in a suburban town, in a wood beside a commuter line. We needed to go in the dark, which in summer was late. That night we gathered his equipment into the car. He knew the spot. I followed him through the dark into the woods, each of us carrying equipment—cameras, tripods, bags. As we stood beside the little pond, we fumbled with the equipment in the blackness, and I inadvertently touched the trigger on a powerful camera flash, which was pointed straight up at our faces, maybe a foot away. It was pitch dark before the flash went off, and our pupils were as dilated as they could be. We were both utterly blinded. Zig’s reaction was first something like, “[sigh]” and then “Well, there’s nothing to do but wait.” He wasn’t mad; maybe a little bemused. We talked a little, and then we started giggling about the absurdity of it because we could do nothing and it was taking a long time. We stood there holding all this equipment (expensive stuff, and we couldn’t see to put it down safely, couldn’t move). Eventually, we fell quiet, waiting. Peripheral vision returned first. A train came by, and I could make out lighted windows and the black bulk of the train passing on the tracks above us. After the train, silence again. A long time. I can’t remember if we bothered with the frogs after we could see well enough to move. I know it was late when we got home. Time with Zig was often expansive this way and hinted there were other ways to live.
In this little vignette is his expertise, passion, patience, good humor, capacity to share, and an example of how to be in the world. Everything about this odd little scene in the dark of night in suburban NJ was, in fact, formative for me—as were many of the rich episodes with Zig. (I’m one of his stepchildren from the ‘70s.) I have only fond, fond memories of him.
March 20, 2020
As Zig;s former wife, but still best friend, I was saddened to learn of Zig's passing. I was about to send him a birthday card. His step- children also feel the loss. To the stepson who so lovingly cared for Zig, I say thank you. Arlene Pennington