Thursday, October 3, 2019
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
A time of sharing and telling stories of Zyg will begin at 7:30 pm on Thursday evening.
Friday, October 4, 2019
11:00 AM EDT
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
156 Valley Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI
Life Story / Obituary
How do you know what to say about a man like Zyg Uzarski? It’s easy! You take one look at his smiling face and you can see immediately that to know Zyg was to love him! Day in and day out he was fun, kind, generous, loving, and an absolute joy to be with. Whether you were family, friend, or co-worker, Zyg added immeasurably to your life. The down-to-earth goodness of this man poured out of him and made this world a marvelous place to be. Making every day count, Zyg renewed your faith in family, friendship, good ol’ fashioned fun, and hard work, too.
Being born on Thanksgiving Day has to be a sign! Yup, Zygfred Anthony Uzarski most certainly added new meaning to Thanksgiving Day when he came into this earthly world on November 28, 1957, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI. He was the youngest of seven wonderful children. Zyg’s father worked as a firefighter for the Grand Rapids Fire Department and in a most unfortunate circumstance, he died in the line of duty just six weeks before Zyg was born. His wife, Virginia Anne Uzarski, a homemaker, was left as the only parent for seven young children including baby Zygfred. Wow, think about that. But a marvelous thing happened. Like a miracle, the neighbors, the church, loving and caring family members, along with the St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Santa Claus Girls, and an amazing community of friends, this poor family was surrounded with a living safety net that kept the family on track for many years!
Church and school were an important part of the Uzarski family growing up. Young Zyg and his sisters and brothers, Diane, Ronald, Dolores, Robert, Steven, and Paul all attended Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and School. And, of course, they had responsibilities of a parental role at home. Diane, the oldest of the seven children cared for and watched out for her younger siblings, often entertaining them and taking them on little trips.
Young Zyg shoveled snow in the winters and cut lawns in the summers to earn spending money. He didn’t spend it all, though. By working hard for .50 cents or a $1.00 a job he was able to save enough to pay for tuition at West Catholic his freshman year. Graduating from Union High School in 1975, Zyg was always smart and took classes at Kent Skill Tech Center during high school. That’s how he learned the construction trade! As a result, he worked in construction all his life and worked for himself on the side wherever and whenever he could. He worked for Owen Ames and Kimball Construction, Draper Group, BCI Construction, and recently at Christman Construction. During the 1990s, Zyg ran his own business, Premiere Construction.
There really wasn’t anything Zyg couldn’t do or figure out. From building houses to trim work, doing siding to windows, he was a master craftsman and was sought after for his talent and dedication. As a result, he was never without work. Zyg loved his work, never tired of it, was dedicated to it and never cut corners. He'd work long and hard until finally, at the end of the day, he would collapse in his chair at home--happy and content for what he had accomplished. During those early years he owned a mobile home and in 1984 he bought the family home on Watson St. SW. As you might imagine, Zyg built an addition and remodeled it over the years.
In 1981, a wonderful thing happened for Zyg and his life was forever changed on that fateful blind date to a Halloween Party at his brother Steve’s barn. Picture this, Zyg was dressed as Baby Huey, wearing nothing but a diaper! Actually, this wasn’t too unusual for Zyg as he was used to walking around the house in his underwear when he got home from work, and he even answered the door that way on occasion! He liked to make people laugh! His date, Linda Verberg, was dressed as a farm girl and it was an instant match. Zyg and Linda began dating and the two love birds were married a year later on October 29 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. The newlyweds made Zyg’s trailer their home until they bought the Uzarski family home in 1984. During these wonderful years together, Zyg and Linda had three beautiful children. Zygfred III was born November 10, 1988, then Rachel on March 29, 1990, and Kellen on May 30, 1996. Church and school at Sacred Heart were a big part of their family life. Whether it was the Parish Festival, the Parish Carnival, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Knights of Columbus, Zyg and Linda and their family could always be counted on to help. Zyg was especially proud of his sons, Zyggy and Kellen when they each earned the title of Eagle Scout. Zyg was always part of scout meetings, outings and jamborees with his sons. Zyg had a fun side, too. He wasn’t all work and no play. He rarely missed a chance to embarrass his children in public and did it as only Zyg could do! The kids will always remember cleaning the house on Sundays while listening to the Grass Roots and singing along. Zyg will be remembered too as a big fan of the Tigers, the Lions, Pistons and Michigan football. He cheered them on whether they were winning or losing!
Zyg and his brothers were always close and formed the famous, “Brothers Club”. It started when Zyg and his brothers, Ron, Bob, Steve, and Paul visited their Uncle Ed Uzarski. The club continued for nearly 40 years, meeting every year, often including their sons and many cousins, too. Zyg loved it and looked forward to it each year. Zyg enjoyed hunting and fishing, often with Andy Baranger or Glen Carwell in the UP, Newaygo, and Big Rapids. He also hunted turkeys and deer with his sons, Zyggy and Kellen. Zyg loved his dogs, Misty the chihuahua, and later, Chikezie and Mazie who were dachshunds.
Michigan Out of Doors was a favorite TV show of Zyg’s, along with Under the Radar, Mash, Hogan’s Heroes and Green Acres. He hated commercials so you know what he did? He watched at least three channels at a time—never seeing an entire episode of anything! He loved Tootsie Rolls, Twinkies, Pop Tarts, Chips Ahoy, Symphony Bars, plus Hungry Man and Swanson frozen TV dinners! He wasn’t much of a cook but he could do hot dogs and burgers on the grill. Zyg was most certainly one-of-a-kind! On the day his son, Zyg, brought Jennie home to meet the family they all wondered how that would go. Long story short, she survived the initiation and Zyg loved her very much.
Family trips were full of great memories. Cedar Point and Six Flags Amusement Parks were family favorites as was brother Steve’s Cottage on the Muskegon River. A long trip around the Upper Peninsula, and to Seattle, Washington to see his nephew, Joel take command of the USS Gridley made for great times. He once spent an entire Summer at his sister, Dee and Dave’s in Wichita, Kansas to remodel their kitchen.
As his life went along, Zyg did have some injuries and health problems but worked through those, including a broken ankle. As it happened, while in the ER for that, he experienced a myocardial infarction and ended up getting a stint in his heart. When he had his knees replaced just a day apart in 2014 it laid him up for four months. Then two years ago, he had bariatric surgery and lost over a hundred pounds. He was happy about that and his family was proud of him.
Zyg will be forever missed in this life but long remembered for the good times he brought to everyone who knew him. Oh yes, he was a jokester for sure, and could share the most inappropriate jokes ever, but we will never forget how he could have people belly laughing on a moment’s notice. No one will ever forget his famous "Zyggy Rubs, ‘Zyggy Hugs’ and "Wet Willies' as an experience never to forget! As human beings go, there wasn’t a better guy anywhere in this world. If you needed help, Zyg was there for you. He would give you the shirt off his back or better yet, he’d buy you one if needed. He had a soft spot for anyone in need. You could plainly see it because he wore his heart on his sleeve every day of his life. He filled his own heart with joy by fulfilling a wish from people in need from the Thanksgiving Wish List published each November in the Grand Rapids Press. Yes, he helped many people throughout his life. Zyg was a dedicated husband, a great father to his children, and always an example for those who were fortunate enough to know this good man. There will never be another Zyggy. To know him was to love him.
Zygfred Anthony Uzarski, aged 61, passed away unexpectedly at his home on Sunday, September 29, 2019. He was the youngest child of the late Zygfred and Virginia Uzarski. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Diane and Gerald Richmond, and his brother, Robert Uzarski. He is survived by his loving wife of 37 years, Linda Kay Uzarski (Verberg); his wonderful children, Zygfred A. Uzarski III (Jenny Chorman), Rachel Uzarski, Kellen Uzarski; his siblings, Ronald and Marti Uzarski, Dolores and David Ziegert, Steven and Linda Uzarski, Paul and Elizabeth Uzarski; sisters-in-law and brothers in law, Krys Uzarski, Pat Uzarski, Chris Verberg, Tom (Sam) Verberg, Bob (Victoria) Verberg, Karen (Bryan) Blank; special friends, Paul and Lisa Snow; aunt, Jean Wysocki; many nieces, nephews, cousins and many, many friends. Zyg was one of a kind. He touched many lives in many special ways, and always left you laughing. He was a wonderful husband, father, brother, cousin, nephew and a friend to all who ever had the privilege to meet him. We will never forget you Zyggy! Relatives and friends may meet his family on Thursday from 2:00 – 4:00 and 6:00 – 8:00 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, with a time of sharing memories at 7:30 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, October 4th at 11:00 am at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, 156 Valley ave NW, with procession to Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please consider contributions in his memory may be made to Habitat for Humanity. To read more about Zyg’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.heritagelifestory.com