Carole Cirucci's father, Stanley Zysk (age 91) passed away quietly on Friday.
Stanley was my father-in-law and the grandfather of my children, Aimee and Adam.
He was a veteran of WW II and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He is also survived by his wife, Catherine and his brother, Frank.
Stanley was born in Connecticut but spent his formative years in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in what was then the Polish neighborhood of Brooklyn (aka Greenpoint) and learned the old ethnic values of hard-work, diligence and circumspection via what was almost certainly a hardscrabble upbringing.
He was very much defined by these values and by surviving the Great Depression and serving in the Army during World War II. Along with the enduring influence of his wife, Catherine, these experiences made him who he was.
Stanley never spoke very much about the lean years or about his experiences in the infantry. Like many members of The Greatest Generation, he kept most of these thoughts to himself. He was a good soldier. He served. He pitched in. He did his part and he let it go at that.
I remember being at an event once where all veterans in the audience were saluted. The anthems of each branch of the armed services were played and the members of the respective branches were asked to stand when their anthem was played. Stanley never stood up. He wanted no attention brought to his service. He felt he was owed no credit. He always said he was lucky to make it home alive. And there can be little doubt that he never forgot those he left behind.
Having served under General Eisenhower, Stanley supported the Republican Party that embraced Ike and twice nominated him for the presidency. Stanley believed in the free enterprise system and benefited from America's post war boom. He spent the bulk of his working life at Mobil's paint division in Edison, NJ. The company was later acquired by Valspar.
Like many Brooklyners, Stanley was a great fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But after they left town, he followed so many others in embracing the New York Mets. Even after he relocated to the Philadelphia area from South River, NJ (post-retirement) he remained a Mets fan -- though he did seem to enjoy the Phillies' World Series win in 2008.
Being born under the sign of Libra, Stanley scrupulously avoided confrontation. It just didn't seem to be his nature to bring matters to a head. And he was not demonstrative nor openly affectionate.
Sometimes, the thoughts he kept to himself could surprise you. I often found myself thrown off guard on the rare occasions that he opened up and revealed his innermost feelings on any one of a number of matters, including life and death. He was also a shrewd investor.
At work and in the community, Stanley was well-liked and respected. He made friends easily and enjoyed not only a long and productive life but a fruitful retirement.
Mass for the repose of the soul of Stanley Zysk will be held Tuesday at 11 AM at St. Peter's, Merchantville. Internment follows at Calvary Cemetery.
Donations in his memory may be made to the USO. Go to USO.org.