Passed away peacefully surrounded by his adoring family on June 19, 2019 at the age of 86. Beloved husband of Carol for 64 years. Amazingly devoted father to Bill (Melissa), Christine (Tom), Jeannie (Mike) and David (Deb). Proud and loving grandparent to Alexandra, Nicholas, David and Rachel. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Frances Zielinski.
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Jim was above all else a lover of people who believed his mission on earth was to help others, not only those in his family or immediate circle but all members of the human race. Whether you were a waitress, cashier, groundskeeper or a middle school student, if you had an encounter with Jim you were a recipient of his “I see you” philosophy, meaning he showed genuine interest in who you were as a person and in your well-being. He believed everyone worthy of attention, interest and respect. One of Jim’s favorite quotes was this: “There is no defense against compassion.”
He was a devoted father and husband who made it his life’s mission to ensure his bride Carol was always loved and well cared for, both while he was part of this life and after he left it. Jim never discouraged his children from following their dreams, even if it meant they would travel far and wide, sometimes to dangerous areas and knowing he wouldn’t get to see them as often as he liked. The freedom to set their sights on distant horizons allowed his four children to find success as a science teacher, a manager of an international relief organization, a wildlife ecologist and as a journalist.
Jim’s love and support for his children never wavered through good times or bad. Bill, Christine, Jeannie and David always knew Dad was there for them whenever and wherever needed, with his unmistakable voice, wise counsel and fatherly concern.
Jim was a born educator who began his career as a math teacher and went on to become principal for 23 years at his beloved Maple Dale School in Fox Point. The teachers who worked alongside him, the students who he cared so deeply for --- to whom he was always “Mr. Z” -- and the parents who he always urged to get involved with their children all came to understand how passionately Jim felt about the power of education to make the world a better place.
At Jim’s retirement party one of his colleagues said this, which aptly captures his character and belief system: “Carol, Jim is a man who adores you. Teachers, Jim is a man who would go to the end of the world for you. Parents, Jim is a man who cares deeply for your children and wants no less for them than he would his own.”
Jim also proudly served in the Korean War on the U.S.S Point Cruz and U.S.S. Boxer from 1952 to 1956 and had a lifelong devotion to his fellow veterans and to the country he loved. He received the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
He also was an enthusiastic, dedicated and accomplished golfer, bowler and dartball player who enjoyed the camaraderie with his friends and teammates as much as he relished the thrill of competition. Jim also loved to garden and family members, friends and neighbors enjoyed the fruits of his vegetable and flower gardens for decades.
In Buddha’s Last Instruction, poet Mary Oliver wrote that Buddha said this before he died: “Make of yourself a light.” Jim made of himself a light his entire life, selflessly and tirelessly giving of himself to family, friends and strangers in ways that will always be remembered and revered.
We would like to thank the caring and committed staff at Lawlis Hospice of Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital and the employees of Home Helpers for the help they gave to Jim and to his family over the preceding months. We also would like to thank Dr. Gregory Matthews and Dr. Ranveer Nand and their great staffs for the care they provided to Jim.
Services for Jim will be held Tuesday June 25 at Schramka Funeral Home, 13220 West Capitol Drive in Brookfield, Wis. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. and the service to follow at noon.
In lieu of flowers Jim’s family is asking for donations to Camp Kesem, an organization that supports children whose parents are experiencing cancer by offering them free summer camps. Camp Kesem represents Jim’s love for children and his belief in giving them support and guidance in difficult times. For donations please visit the organization’s website, https://campkesem.org, or send them via mail to Camp Kesem, 10586 West Pico Blvd, #196, Los Angeles, CA 90064.