One of the greatest men of “The Greatest Generation” has died. 96 year old Louis Zemek, son of Martin and Julia Kral Zemek, from Johnson City, NY died on January 28, 2021 of multiple organ failure due to complications of COVID-19. Lou was predeceased by his wife (and our mom), Chloe in 2003 and by his brothers and their wives Al and Flo; Mart and Bobbie. He is survived by his children Becky Rowe of Johnson City, Kerry Zemek of Binghamton and Sandy Hill of Perry, FL. Also surviving are 4 grandchildren and several great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Our dad was a great man for many reasons. Among myriad other reasons: As a kid, Lou helped his widowed mother by marshalling his brothers to help him cook and clean so Grandma could rest after coming home from work. When Grandma’s lower legs were amputated, Dad invented and made leather “boots” for her knees so she could get around without her prostheses. Lou quit high school to join the US Army Air Corp. in 1943 (he was given his diploma as a graduate anyway). As a medic in the 722nd Squadron of the 450th Bombardment Group (H), Dad spent 2 years in Italy attending to everything from colds and rashes to serious battle wounds. After the rest of the 450th went home, Lou was “volunteered” to stay in Italy and work for Big Fence, a triangulation team that helped lost planes return to friendly territory. (Long after the war, Dad enjoyed going to yearly reunions of the 450th, first with Chloe, then with his daughter, Becky.) Dad had the good sense to marry our Mom in 1948. He worked at Buckingham Mfg. Co. in Binghamton for 44 years, retiring as a foreman. Lou built his own house, with a little help from family and friends. If asked why he thought he could build a home, Dad’s reply was “It never occurred to me that I couldn’t!” Lou helped raise three decent kids. He taught us useful skills, everything from cooking and cleaning to home repairs and car maintenance. Dad once rescued a frog from a snake’s mouth. And he taught us to always stop and carry a turtle out of the road so it wouldn’t get squashed. Lou always had great respect for women and would say “Men couldn’t handle being women.” And Dad could build anything. He was always very supportive of others and could be counted on to help them achieve their goals. Dad cared deeply about the environment and saw God in the natural world around him. He was an avid hunter and fisherman all his life. Lou had a great sense of humor. As he got older, so did the jokes. But they were still funny! At Dad’s request, there will be no funeral services or memorials. If you would like to honor his memory, here are 3 suggestions: get those around you to wear a mask and practice social distancing (Lou fought hard to not die of COVID-19, but he did); always vote, and if you wish, please make a monetary donation to the East Maine Fire Company, 847 East Maine Road, Johnson City, NY 13790 (attention: Shawn Ramsey).
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