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Date of Passing: Dec 16, 2014Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
ZYGMUNT (ZYGGY) KLIMCZAK Zygmunt (Zyggy) Richard Klimczak passed on December 16, 2014, he was 90 years old. He is survived by sons Rick and Tracy, daughters-in-law Marilyn and Tiana, grandchildren Michelle, Lori, Kevin and Tobin; great-grandsons Archer, Callum and Tomson; as well as very special friend Corinne Otonikar. He is predeceased by wife Marjorie Klimczak who passed in March, 2006. Zyggy's enthusiasm and joy of life was an inspiration to all his family as well as his wide circle of friends and colleagues. His ordeals of the Second World War could have jaded and burdened him, but it seems these experiences only helped him realize he needed to embrace and celebrate the opportunities and good fortune life made available to him. A victim of Russia's invasion of Poland at the start of the Second World War, Zyggy was sent to a Siberian labor camp at age 15. It was a 28 day trip in a cattle car with 30 others. They were allowed out of the car only once during the trip. He never belaboured the experience but when asked about his time in Siberia he once explained "I remember always being hungry and cold all I wanted was to just not be hungry for once and then I would be happy to die". To put a better perspective on it he then quickly smiled and said "and look at me now, sometimes I won't even eat all my dessert!" Hundreds of thousands of the Poles sent to Siberia never returned. This was the first of many times Zyggy beat the odds. After two years in Siberia, Zyggy and his fellow interned Poles to Northern Africa to join the 8th English Army, 2nd Polish Corps. He had to lie about his age to be admitted into the forces. He participated in the Battle of Tobruk against General Rommel. From there it was over to Italy where he fought in the front lines at the Battle of Monte Cassino. Of the 8,000 Poles who fought and won the top of the mountain, 4,000 perished. In 1947 Zyggy was discharged as a Lieutenant. On is trip to Canada he contracted tuberculosis, this meant two years confinement at the Brandon Sanatorium. There was a silver lining to all these hardships, once he regained his health, he took some English and vocational training and was hired to work in the Xray Department of the hospital. This resulted in meeting a newly graduated nurse, Marjorie Thompson. They married in September, 1951. Zyggy's career evolved from there to working in a Brandon bakery, becoming a tire salesman in Swan River, Manitoba, then on to become the Accountant at the Swan River hospital. During that time he completed a university diploma program in Hospital Administration. This led to an appointment from 1971 1974 as Hospital Administrator in Pine Falls, Manitoba, and from there to a ten year term as Administrator of the two hospitals and two personal care homes in Deloraine and Melita. Getting each of the health facilities he led to successfully acquire the Accreditation designation for quality, safety, and efficiency was one of his many achievements. Zyggy retired in 1984. He and Marj then had the best of all worlds, they loved the close-knit, small town lifestyle of Deloraine in the summers and the sun and fellowship of all their snowbird friends in Mesa, Arizona each winter. Zyggy was always quick to point out when he left hospital administration he wasn't retired "now my job is to golf everyday." And golf almost everyday of the year he did. Always competent at the game, the true accomplishments may have been the regularity, once he was in his mid-seventies and beyond, that his score would be lower than his age. So many layers and so many stories he spoke 5 languages. It would take a chance occurrence with someone who happened to be speaking Italian or Russian for Zyggy to pop into the conversation and amaze those around who didn't even know he knew anything about the language. Zyggy was renown for his colourful quips and sayings. A good golf shot could earn you the compliment "you foxy banana" or "good shotski Mr. Potski". Should Zyggy mishit one you could count on hearing "shxx on a pumpkin". His family gave him a custom made ball cap with a more "polite" version embroidered on the front: S.O.A.P. When someone would lament anything from prices for the crops being too low, to gas prices being too high, or the weather interfering with a tee time all would be put in proper perspective when Zyggy would say with a shake of his head, smile on his face, a twinkle in in eye "It's a tough life in Canada!" The real intent of the message was always clearly understood. There will be a memorial service at The Deloraine United Church at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 4. The family asks that any donations be made to the Deloraine Health Centre Palliative Care Fund.
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 10, 2015
Condolences & Memories (4 entries)
Rick and Tracey, what a beautiful tribute to your father, who sounded like a remarkable man. I am sure it is heartening to know that his was a life very well spent when early memories could have had such an opposite affect. He had the most positive influence on yours and many other lives. Rest in peace Mr. Klimczak. - Posted by: Vern Schwarz (friend) on: May 24, 2020
Rick, so sorry on the passing of your Father. It is very hard to lose your parents. Both of mine are gone too. Your parents were wonderful people dedicating numerous volunteer hours to the Swan River School Band when living there. I am sure you are very proud of who they were. Be confident that you will meet them when you look in the mirror, look in the face of your brother. There is great comfort in that. The memories become dearer as the time passes by. All the best in this time of sorrow. Jayne, former Band colleague, still in Swan River - Posted by: Jayne Leadbeater (Minish) (Friend from Swan River, MB) on: Jan 17, 2015
To Rick and Family What a great tribute to your father. We are sure you are very proud of his accomplishments in life. It is a wonderful story that needs to be told, and it makes us all proud of the adversity he faced as a young man and turned those experiences into a fabulous life. He was a great Canadian. Our thoughts are with you. Sincerely, Kim and Lynn Sharpe Qualicum Beach - Posted by: Kim and Lynn Sharpe (Family Friends) on: Jan 12, 2015
I was very moved by your loved one's obituary and I extend by sincerest condolences. I do not know any of you but your father's story could have been my father's story. He, too, spent time in Siberia and later joined the army. Reading Mr. Klimczak's story added some information to my Dad's life story as my Dad was reluctant to share details. Your dad's quips could have been my father's quips like "Quit your Bit**ing--you've never had it so good!" and the preoccupation with hunger and food. Once again, I am sorry about your loss. Your obit touched me and brought back a flood of precious memories. - Posted by: marianne wojtas staub (daughter of a fellow Siberia survivor) on: Jan 10, 2015
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