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1936 Robert 2024

Robert Charles Zembiec

July 25, 1936 — April 18, 2024

Humboldt

Robert Charles Zembiec died at the State Veteran’s Home in Humboldt, TN on April 18, 2024. He was born
on July 25, 1936 to the parents of Helen and Alexander Zembiec in Carthage, New York, and was the oldest
of four children. In April of 1954, at the age of 17, Robert enlisted in the Air Force, completing his basic
training at Bainbridge, MD. He then spent five months at Shephard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas
taking an aircraft maintenance course. In March of 1956 he was stationed at Elgin AFB in Florida where he
was a part of the Air Research and Development working on B-29’s and B-50’s. In 1957, he was stationed
with the 421st Air Refueling Squadron on Yokohama AFB in Japan, also working on B-29’s and B-50’s.
From May through September of 1958 Robert was a part of the Marshall Islands testing of nuclear weapons
and worked on C-54’s.
In September of 1958 he was stationed at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts. It is there that he met a
woman by the name of Elaine VanWasshnova from South Rockwood Michigan. Robert would often exclaim
that “She was the prettiest woman on base and best thing that ever happened to him.” On June 13th, 1959
they married in Elaine’s hometown. This June they would have been married 65 years. Elaine passed just a
month before Robert on March 19th, 2024.
Robert and Elaine raised their four children, David, Thomas, Laura, and Rebecca in Carthage, NY. In the fall
of 1982, Robert became severely ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This polio like disease would leave
Robert, an avid deer hunter, paralyzed within a matter of 24 hours. He spent 15 months in Upstate Medical
Center in Syracuse, NY. He would then be sent to the Carthage Hospital for another year before he was well
enough to go home. Although he never fully recovered, he came a long way with his recovery to where he
was able to walk, drive and return to many of his activities and dancing with his daughter at her wedding in
1986. He was even able to return to his favorite activity of deer hunting with the help of some of his hunting
buddies, bagging an 8 point buck weighing 206 pounds.
Over the years, Robert worked many jobs to provide for his family. He was employed at Crown Zellerbach
from 1960-1971. He and Elaine bought a 200 acre farm, raising cows, sheep and other various farm animals
and maintaining several large vegetable gardens. In 1971, he sold his cows and enrolled in Aviation School
at Riverside School of Aeronautics in Marcy, NY. He would graduate with honors in the top 10% of his
class. He then ran the Massena and Malone airport for the next four years. At the time of his Guillain-Barre
diagnosis, Robert worked as a heavy mobile equipment mechanic at Fort Drum, NY.
Robert was a very talented man with a variety of interests who taught himself carpentry and was quite the
handyman. He and his wife, Elaine, started a stain glass business in New York which they would continue
when they retired and moved to Springville, TN in 1995. One of their major accomplishments is the 8x8
stained glass window with the crest of the 10th Mountain Division that is installed over the entrance of the
post headquarters at Fort Drum, NY.
Robert leaves behind his four children, Dave (Barbara), Thomas (Maureen), Laura Baker (BJ/Merle) and
Rebecca Hank (Daniel), ten grandchildren and two great granddaughters.
He was predeceased by his brothers Richard Zembiec (Judy), Donald Zembiec (JoAnn) and is survived by
his sister Joan Todd (Robert).
At the time of their passing, Robert and Elaine shared a room at the W.D. “Bill” Manning Tennessee State
Veteran’s Home in Humboldt, TN.
Anyone who knew our dad knows he is a great storyteller. We are certain that he is sitting next to mom once
again telling stories to anyone who will listen, stopping occasionally to say, “Ain’t that right, Elaine” and she
is quietly smiling back at him.
The family wishes to thank the staff at the W.D. “Bill” Manning Tennessee State Veteran’s Home in
Humboldt, TN for the care they provided for our parents; the Knights of Columbus at Holy Cross Catholic
Church in Paris, TN, who over the years provided meals and transportation to appointments; and finally
Gentiva Hospice of Jackson, TN, who provided love and kindness to both our parents in their final, stages of
life. Please consider a donation in Robert and Elaine’s name to any one of these organizations.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Charles Zembiec, please visit our flower store.

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