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Lee Zmolek

September 11, 2018
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Lee Zmolek, 91, died Saturday morning, September 1, 2018, at his home in Newton.

Visitation hours were held on Thursday, September 6, 2018, between the hours of 5-7 pm at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton, and followed by a Vigil at 7 pm. A funeral mass service was held at 10:30 am on Friday, September 7, 2018 at Sacred Heart Church. Burial will take place at Sacred Heart Cemetery, with a lunch and fellowship time to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Progress Industries. Pence ~Reese Funeral Home in Newton has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Leon R. Zmolek was born in Toledo on May 28, 1927 and grew up in rural Tama County. After graduating with honors from Tama High School, he served in the Navy from 1945 to 1947. In 1952, he graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering from Iowa State, where he met 'city girl' Mary Brandt of Des Moines, marrying her the same year.

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Lee Zmolek

Lee worked for one year with Philips Petroleum in Borger, Texas, before returning with Mary in 1953 to settle in Newton, where he took a job with Maytag, retiring in 1993. Mary passed away in 2010.

In 2012, Leon married Catherine Whalen Dexter of Tama. The two had met in their teens.

Left to honor the memory of Leon are his wife Catherine; elder brother Al; foster brothers Larry (Marlene) Skala, Pat (Cathy) Skala and Mike (Jackie) Skala; sons Tom (Mary), Stuart and Michael; daughter Paula (Steve) Eades; grand-daughters Laura Zmolek and Kate (Brian) Jackson; great-grandchildren Max, Conner, Genevieve and Aneliese; step-daughter Carene Larsen; and step-sons Kerry Sieh and Rodger Sieh.

At the height of the Great Depression in 1936, Leon lost his parents, George and Agnes. Elder Sisters Hattie and Pauline were adults. The five younger children were placed in the care of three aunts: Bill with Aunt Helen (Pete) Lyon; Lee and Al with Genevieve (Ed) Skala; and Marilyn and Bob with Rose Nechanicky (Adolph) Zmolek. Despite their early separation, the seven siblings remained close and held frequent reunions.

During 57 years of marriage, Lee and Mary advocated for the disabled and autistic, helping found many organizations. Lee served his local church parish in many capacities and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. Lee and Mary enjoyed many vacations throughout North America and Europe and took part in pilgrimages to holy sites in Israel, Italy, France and Venezuela.

In retirement, Lee donated blood and volunteered at tax time to assist with returns. In 2016, both Lee and Al took 'Honor Flights' to Washington, DC, in honor of their service during World War II.

Lee enjoyed tinkering in his workshop, fixing cars, gardening, fishing, sailing and taking his son for walks in the fields. With Catherine, he enjoyed traveling, socializing, reminiscing about childhood and watching old musicals.

Above all, Lee will be remembered as a caretaker who loved God and sought to live according to the Prayer of Saint Francis.



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