PLATTSBURGH — John Zelent, 85 of Plattsburgh, N.Y. died Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.
John was born in Poznan, Poland on April 20, 1928. John's childhood years were spent in the small farming community of Poznan. When Germany invaded Poland at the onset of World War II, John fled his home and was forced to work in a military labor camp in Germany for the remainder of the war. At the end of the war, John immigrated to the United States and initially started a new life in Chicago, Ill. It was soon after, that John enlisted in the United States Air Force, in which he proudly served for 21 years, retiring at the rank of Master Sergeant.
It was during his first Air Force duty assignment in Upper Heyford, near Oxford, England, that John met the love of his life, Bernadette Kowalik. Bernadette and her family were also displaced by the Russian occupation of Poland and ended up settling in London England, where John and Bernadette met and were married. John's career in the Air Force took he and his family to England, Spain, Edwards AFB, Calif., and South Dakota. During his military assignments in England and Spain, he was able to provide his family the opportunity to travel to Scotland, France and other European destinations. John received many military commendations and awards during his 21 year military career in the Air Force.
When John retired from the Air Force he moved his family to Plattsburgh, where he and his family would make their home. He found re-employment with the Civil Engineering Squadron at PAFB, initially as a mason and in later years in the real property management office. John retired from CES after 21 years of service as a civilian employee at PAFB. John was a skilled and accomplished mason and took great pride in his masonry brick and stonework. A couple of the projects he was most proud of was the masonry restoration of the old brick base chapel on the base oval and the concrete commemorative plaque and static display mounting of the FB-111 at the former PAFB entrance.
John always remained active and could be found throughout the community doing second and third part time jobs as a
handyman in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and masonry work, in order to provide for his family, so that all three of his children would be able to attend college. This was one of John's proudest achievements that a man from an early meager existence was able to make his way in life and provide for
his wife and children.
John's enjoyments in life were dancing the polka, enjoying various types of music, singing, and spending quality family time with his children and grandchildren. John was a two cancer survivor, it never dampened his resilience and spirit to continue to remain active.
John is survived by his wife of 59 years, Bernadette; and three children, daughter Kristine Zelent Banister of Bergen, N.Y., a daughter Anita Squier and her husband Craig of Plattsburgh; and son John Zelent and his wife Samantha of Brockport, N.Y. John is survived by two grandchildren Alexander Zelent and Laura Banister. In addition, John is also survived by his extended family Joshua and Audra Squier and Zachary and Danielle Squier, all of Morrisonville, N.Y.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Clinton Community College Foundation, 136 Clinton Point Drive, Plattsburgh, NY 12901.
At John's request there will be no calling hours. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, at St Peter's Church in Plattsburgh. Burial will follow in St. Peter's Cemetery with full military honors. Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown Funeral Home, 29 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901 (518)561-3980. Online condolences and memorial candles may be offered at www.brownfuneral homeinc.com.