Edward C. Zyniecki Jr.
GUILDERLAND — An entrepreneur, Edward C. Zyniecki Jr. was a family man as well as a businessman.
“He loved his grandchildren and just enjoyed the whole spirit of family,” said his son, Edward Zyniecki.
“You would often find him telling stories of life and bouncing a baby on his lap,” his family wrote in a tribute.
He died peacefully on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. He was 88.
“In the last months of his life, Ed was able to spend quality time with his family, building memories that will be with them always,” they wrote.
Mr. Zyniecki was born on Sept. 30, 1925 in Milwaukee, Wis. to Anna Zyniecki (née Blochowiak) and Edward C. Zyniecki. His mother was a homemaker and his father was a brew master for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
“He ran for mayor of Milwaukee on the Socialist ticket,” said Edward Zyniecki. “This was back in the 1920s...Milwaukee was a stronghold for Socialists.”
Mr. Zyniecki graduated in 1943 from East Milwaukee High. Despite having had polio, which made it difficult for him to walk, Mr. Zyniecki nevertheless played basketball and football and ran track.
He went on to Marquette University in Milwaukee where he received a mechanical engineering degree. He was a gifted math student and, when his calculus professor was absent, Mr. Zyniecki would fill in as the teacher, his son said.
“His real claim to fame was, in his head, he could multiply any two three-digit numbers,” he said.
Mr. Zyniecki was also a leader. He was president of the Triangle Fraternity, for men majoring in science, math, architecture, or engineering. He was president, too, of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers; he maintained his membership in ASHRAE for 50 years.
After graduating from Marquette, Mr. Zyniecki went into the boiler business and traveled frequently and widely in that career.
While based in the Midwest, on one of those business trips, he met the woman who would become his wife, Leota; she was from the Detroit area. “He met my mother on a blind date,” said their son.
They were married in 1948 and their union lasted more than 65 years, ending only with his death. The couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Nov. 20, 2013.
The Zynieckis moved to New York State when Mr. Zyniecki went to work for the J.W. Stevens Company. “He absolutely loved it,” his son said of his work. “He was well respected. He sold top quality boilers.”
Mr. Zyniecki took to the skies to make efficient business trips. “As business grew, he bought his own plane,” said his son. “This was before the Internet and planes were the way to go.”
Eventually, Mrs. Zyniecki got her pilot’s license, too, and the couple would travel together.
The Zynieckis settled in Guilderland in 1953, building a home in McKownville. “It was suburbia, all new. People moved out from the city,” their son said. “They built a house by Stuyvesant Plaza.” There, the Zynieckis raised their seven children.
Although Mr. Zyniecki did some carpentry work on the house, most of his efforts were spent as a businessman and a family man. “He was a great father, a great provider,” said Edward Zyniecki. “My parents had a good marriage. They were into raising a family...They traveled extensively together, flying all around the country together.”
Mr. Zyniecki served as a volunteer fireman for a while, but his travels interfered. He was also an early member of the Western Turnpike Kiwanis Club as well as a member of the University Club and the Fort Orange Club.
“In that era,” said his son, “Our whole neighborhood was filled with businessmen...and those clubs went along with that.”
Mr. Zyniecki became a partner in the J.W. Stevens Company, serving as executive vice president from 1985 to 1995.
He retired from J.W. Stevens Company in 1996. He was also involved in a couple of other business ventures. One was Chicken Cluckers, a butcher shop in Albany’s Arbor Hill that sold exclusively chickens. Another was Edleez Tobacco in Stuyvesant Plaza, named for himself, Ed, and his wife, Lee.
Mr. Zyniecki could find business opportunities in unlikely ways.
“Thirty-two years ago, he developed prostate cancer,” said his son. “He was the first person in New York State to have radiation implants....While he was convalescing, he took daily walks to Stuyvesant Plaza and would stop at the cigar shop. He enjoyed a good cigar.”
The owner was planning to move to California. “He sold the business to my father, lock, stock, and barrel for $10,000,” said Mr. Zyniecki. “They took that from being a ready-to-close business to one with the largest humidor in upstate New York.”
When Mr. Zyniecki wasn’t working at his businesses, he enjoyed traveling with his wife, flying in their Cessna 182. He also liked fishing with his friends in Canada, and hunting in Maine. “But he’d never fire his gun,” said his son. “He went for the camaraderie.”
His son concluded, “He was a great storyteller. Even on a bad day, he could tell a good story.”
Edward C. Zyniecki Jr. is survived by his wife, Leota Zyniecki, and his seven children: Thomas Zyniecki and his wife, Joyce, of Inwood, W. Va.; Ann Mackey and her husband, George, of Hingham, Mass.; Edward Zyniecki and his wife, Judy, of Big Fork, Mont.; Pamela Kuczenski and her husband, Thomas, of Guilderland; James Zyniecki and his wife, Dawn, of Altamont; John Zyniecki and his wife, Jill, of Guilderland; and Janet Ruprecht of Colonie.
He is also survived by 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; a sister-in-law, Doris Zyniecki; and nieces and nephews of Milwaukee, Wis.
His brother, Ralph Zyniecki, died before him, as did two sons-in-law, Daniel Kaltenbach and John Ruprecht.
The Hans Funeral Home of Albany is handling arrangements; a memorial service will be at a later date at the convenience of the family.
When asked about memorial contributions, Edward Zyniecki responded, “My father would say, hold on to your money.”
— Melissa Hale-Spencer