|As many of you know by now, Uncle Joe Zembal died on December 18, 2007. As Rosemarie so beautifully put it, "Last evening, Tuesday, December 18, 2007, as Dad was at the dinner table waiting for his food, he closed his eyes for a final time. He went ever so peacefully, without any pain."
|Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Thank you Uncle Joe ... for taking me clam digging AND for the couple of sips of berry wine you made in your basement. ~~Kathy Russell|
The following eulogy was prepared by Joe and Mary's children and was read at his memorial service by Frank Majeski III.
Joe Zembal was a simple man of high ideals.
He grew up in the Wishkah Valley, the third child, but first son to a Polish immigrant couple, Victoria & Michael Zembal.
Throughout his life he remained faith-filled, thrifty and a faithful man, with a strong character and a simple way of life. He had a 1948 Ford pick-up truck which he had for over 30 years. When the window broke, he sewed it up. When the door handle broke, he wired it with an electrical cord which stretched from the inside handle to the bottom of the door. You pulled down on the cord and it unlocked the door. The truck was washed only once in his life-time to our recall. It was of great embarrassment to us girls when Dad was off work due to stormy harbor winds and he would drive us to St. Mary's School. We begged him to let us off a block or two away so no one would see us in the old 48 Ford. Instead, he drove us up to the front door and blew the horn, announcing that the Zembal children had arrived. He taught us humility and educated us on how to deal with embarrassment.
We were the last family in the block to have a telephone and TV set. It wasnt that we couldn't afford one, it was the principle of it not being a necessity. Again, the simple thrifty life of his Wishkah roots came forth. The 65 Chevy was still being called the new car in the 1980s. His whole life was filled with simplicity.
Dad grew up in a family centered on Faith which he carried through his entire life. From 1942 to the year his health no longer allowed, he and Mom said the Rosary each night of his life. The six of his kids also took part in the Rosary whether they wanted to or not. It was not an option to forgo this ritual. We went to church every Sunday, where dad was an usher for many years. He also helped to maintain the church property, pruning the shrubs and trees, and performing minor repairs for close to 50 years. He and mom performed the housekeeping tasks to keep St. Peter & Paul's Church clean & ready for services. Though we really couldn't afford it, he saw that his kids attended St. Mary's school, putting Catholic education first.
At Christmas, when the three eldest children were young, they would go with Dad to the Wishkah on his parents 40-acre homestead, which he had purchased at a $1 an acre. He would take trips across the Wishkah river with each of us writing piggy back. He would cross first with one child, then the next, hauling each over until all were across the river. We would pick out a little fir tree for our house and about four larger ones for the church. Then back we would go across the river. This time with many more trips, as he had to bring each tree as well as each child across separately. Furthermore, we crossed the river on Dad's back very assured of our safety, as he precariously crossed the river on a large alder tree which stretched from one side to the other.
He was a skilled woodsman, having camped for weeks and months as a young man with his brothers, peeling cascara bark and selling it to help make a living on the old farm.
A kind and gentle man, he helped raise his family, rocking, singing and playing the harmonica to his own sisters and brothers, later to his children and grandchildren and also to the many foster babies that he and mom took in and loved unconditionally. Dad loved his children dearly, but sometimes his impatience would get the better of him when one of his kids would do wrong and he would grab the nearest shoe as they ran for cover.
He quoted the scriptures, as only a Catholic can, in bits and pieces. He gave us strong faith and trust in the Lord, that was instilled in him by his parents who helped establish the little church up the Wishkah in their Polish community. His family trusted in God absolutely. That trust led him to Chicago to a Catholic singles convention where he met mom. They told us that when they met, he felt the Holy Spirit convince him that Mary Eichberger was the one he would marry, and he did so in 1942.
This trust and faith in God carried him as well as his three brothers and a sister through the major battles of World War II. Dad was an army engineer and a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He was shipped to Algeria, then to Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio, Italy; France and the Netherlands. When others took to the taverns, dad was at the Chapel.
Dad and Mom went on to raise six children. He worked as a logger for Mayr Brothers, then 20 years for Weyerhaeuser, retiring in 1976.
His generosity was exemplary. He gave to those in need, always without a thought of repayment. He financed each of his children's homes without interest. When Rosemarie and Frank paid off their last thousand dollars on the 2nd home, he was much more excited about the case of blackjack gum they found for him in Canada, when it was no longer sold in stores on the Harbor, than the money they repaid. Dad's faithfulness to his wife Mary, was a beautiful example of married life. They did everything together and loved and respected each other for the 65 years they were married. Reflecting on Dad?s life this past week, reminds us of the uncomplicated live he led, and how well he followed in the footsteps of Christ. He was hard-working, spiritual, generous and honorable.
We struggled to write his Eulogy because there was so much to say.
Please come join us for refreshments, Dad's favorite activity for the past 2 years, and enjoy the humor of this man of character. Special memories from each of his children have been posted on the memorabilia table set up in the Polish Club where he was a life long member. Pencils and papers will be in a basket there, for you to add to our stories, if you wish.
Thank you all for coming to lay Dad to rest and to comfort us in the Polish tradition in prayer and feast.
|Below is Don Kleczynski's report on his trip to Aberdeen and Uncle Joe's memorial service at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. It was a celebration of Uncle Joe's life and in doing so the family honored their father in a wonderful and warm way. God bless us all.
Aberdeen trip to Celebrate the life of our Uncle Joe Zembal
December 22, 2007
Out of Hubbard with Ken and Linda this day at 8:00 am. while still on the dark side and in the rain. It rained all the way to Aberdeen where it amazingly stopped completely just as we crossed the bridge. But along the way the rains had continued. Drivers without fears at all, sped on past. Even a pickup pulling a brand new camping trailer couldnít let the posted 70 mph signs go unheeded!!
Itís two hours before the turn-off from I-5 towards Aberdeen, then another hour into Aberdeen. We arrive about 11:00 am. with plenty of time before the 1:00 pm. Mass at the "Old Polish Catholic Church" of Sts. Peter and Paul in Aberdeen. Time for a quick look around the town, and a drive to the cemetery where Uncle Joe had been laid to rest the day before. (Scheduling difficulty). We had no idea how huge Fern Hill Cemetery was! It is huge!!
The street to cemetery was covered with 6 inches water over center of the roadway, much deeper on the sides. Lots of lakes in whole of area. Some probably natural but many more likely left from flooding during the storm. Many lakes chocolate brown. Even Iím not ready for a dip in those. Good that itís winter and too cold, huh?
Wind storm of Dec 1 and 2 created a terrible amount of damage ... thousands of trees down within both fir and decidious stands of trees. Some areas the trees snapped off high up, some with nearly clean breaks others splintered on down, many just fell in completeness. How did so many houses within, escape trees having crashed down on them? The sounds of these winds in the 100 - 120 mph range said to be like a locomotive coming through the house and lasting for hours. Everyone with trees within range surely to have hunkered down and prayed for relief. Power outage extensive and out for nearly a week. A lot of flooding but that pretty well cleaned up before our arrival into town.
Throughout Aberdeen many houses covered with blue tarps on roofs. Others with strips of roofing off. Wooden fences blown over. Rains had resumed and water still ample. Water on sidewalks and some backyards floating with home debris. Much of our route on Hwy 12 from I-5 is in close proximity to Chehalis River, giving some indication of flooding of farmland through there. Our road is mostly well above the river but not all the way. High water marked by dead grass hangs two feet above ground on the woven wire fences along our road. None of this prepared us for the destruction near Aberdeen!!
Coming into Aberdeen the Chehalis River was running full, all river and water-ways full, to looking ready to Ö come on over. Logs and debris floating through in numbers. When leaving at 4:00 the rivers had dropped 5 feet? Oh, of course, tide effects. We arenít that far from the ocean.
During our drive-around, we went past Joe and Maryís home in Aberdeen which looks just as I have always pictured it.
Thought we had better check location of the Church just so we would know exactly where it was. It is only 12:15 pm and should be too early to think about going in. Whoa, cars are lined on both sides of street for the Mass at 1:00!!! Church full? Better go in and find a seat. Another surprise. Nobody in main part of Church!! Cars of homeowners in this residential area Ö or maybe the local tavernís patrons!
Really nice Church inside. Well maintained for one that doesnít have services anymore for lack of priests. Established in 1906. The stubborn Polish people of the area wont let it be torn down. This is their heritage! How wonderful for stubborn Polacks!!! I was surprised how small it was. My picture as a youngster Ö it seemed pretty big! My Grandparents, Michael and Victoria Zembal were married in this Church in 1907.
The extra time in the Church gave us time to pray Ö. and to reflect. For me to reflect on trips to the Wishkah, memories about Uncle Joe, memories of all relatives in Washington I knew as a kid, and memories of all of them since, that have been written into my recesses during these latter years. How wonderful that distances arenít keeping us apart. Technology of emails has brought us all closer together, in word if not in person!
Janie Reibel read the scriptures of the Mass, Frank Majeski III read the eulogy written by the family of Joe and Maryís. Beautifully written and well presented, about a person that we relatives are truly proud to be of his heritage!!! Can you too hear his voice? Joe turned 96 this past year of 2007 and he and Mary celebrated 65 years of marriage together in November. Truly amazing, remarkable!!
Reception in Polish Hall two buildings down the street, followed. Lots of good food on tables of length. Lots of people and lots too of relatives to join this celebration. Lots of relatives to visit with, if ever so briefly. Lots of life to share but little time to do so. Hours and days and years go by so quickly!!!
So good to see Aunt Mary; Aunt Berna; Uncle Eddie and Paz; in addition to Janie; Nancy and Paul; Billy; all of Joe and Maryís family. Great visit with a lot of the Zembals. I looked around to see who I missed visiting. Caught up with a couple more but missed Charles (Lundburg) as I didnít locate until we had to be leaving, and then he engrossed in conversation. Another time!
Sorry to have missed some of you but thrilled to have visited with as many as I did!
Oregon relatives included Darlene, Vince and Cindy; Don and Joan; Ken and Linda; Marilyn and Ed; Mary, Chuck, Michael and Kevin; and Denise; a caravan of three vehicles.
Aunt Mary seemed to be doing well for the situation. I think her family, like Joeís sister, Sophieís family a year earlier, understand the great rewards of Joy and Happiness to be found in Heaven! Although their absence felt deeply, we know their lives are only now beginning and thoughts of their rewards in Heaven makes our loneliness bearable.
May he rest in the Peace of the Lord forever!!!
We are out and away at 4:00 pm. for the three hour trip home. Drizzly rain began shortly after leaving Aberdeen and continued to Kelso. Lots of traffic both directions all day, particularly south bound this evening to Centralia and to Chehalis as that the destination for maybe 30%. Traffic still moving a good pace anyway, not the slow down as we see on Portland freeway a lot of times. Marvelous to see all the lights along the highway of Christmas Season displays.
Little more tension driving in the dark and in the rain and watching for those "bully" type drivers. We have a good driver so no fear. Especially no fear with me as a copilot to watch for anything unexpected and ready to holler "hang on" Ö relieving the driver of that worry!!
Over the Marquam Bridge in Portland on the way north that morning, on the high upper level with itís low guard rails so people get a better VIEW of the Willamettte River, of the city of Portland and the skyline beyond. EEEK!! On the return, Ken prefers the Fremont Bridge instead of the congestion of lane changes on the lower deck of the Marquam. I said "fine", not knowing. Southbound on the Fremont is upper deck too and again a spectacular VIEW of Portland lights in the dark of a Christmas Season night. Again a "hold on" crossing of another sky high bridge. The driver was doing pretty good, being in the right lanes at the right times, keeping us on the bridge. The co-pilot? Somebody needs to be checking the map!!! Too dark? Doesnít matter when your eyes are closed!
We are home before 7:00 pm, right on schedule!