Casimir “Caz” Zajac
Casimir “Caz” Zajac, age 98, died on Jan. 3, 2018 at the House of the Dove in Marshfield, WI.
Caz was born at exactly midnight on January 1st, 1921 in the city of Chicago to John (Jan) Zajac and Mary (Manya) Gizyeki. Casimir’s mother died when he was a baby. His father, John remarried Sophia Halatek in 1922, and moved the family of 4 children to a small farm in the town of Seif.
An admittedly bored and idealistic teenager, Caz made the difficult decision to drop-out of high school. As a young lad, he hopped a train to Chicago where he worked for $1.00 an hour at the Continental Canning Co. At age 18, he took his first flying lesson and aviation became a passion. At age 20, he answered an ad in the newspaper to deliver a 1937 4-door Ford convertible to Los Angeles. It was a 6 day drive on all gravel roads and no motels to sleep in. In California, contrary to his career goals, he flipped burgers at one the original McDonald’s before finding some adventure as a firefighter, a crew member aboard a Pacific tuna fishing boat and as a stagehand on the set of a Hollywood movie studio. While working at the Hal Roach move studios, Caz met and later married Evelyn Lake, a legal secretary from Michigan. Feeling that his previous jobs lacked the allure of speed and flying, he continued teaching himself drafting and how to read a micrometer. Recognizing his talents and ambition, Caz was hired by the Garrett Corp., an innovative and expanding firm. At age 32, he began there as an aircraft parts inspector for a small defense plant, Aireasearch. This small plant with growth and acquisition became a multinational corporation, Allied Signa, who later acquired Honeywell and retained the Honeywell name. In 1964, Casimir was assigned to the Propulsion division and the company sent him to inspect developing projects at private and military sites around the country including the Ordill Ordinance plant in Marion, Illinois. It was top secret work requiring an arduous FBI clearance process. There, he worked monitoring the manufacturing, testing and shipping of solid rocket fuel, also on a project involving submarine-fired missiles empowered by solid rocket fuel, armed with an atomic warhead.
Caz’s years with Garrett involved him in a gammat of projects including space programs such as SkyLab. He logged thousands of miles aboard 42 different commercial airlines in the process. Most intriguing and special to him was his work with the AiReasearch development and testing of a prototype of linear induction trains that could literally fly on a cushion of air. On the opening day of the test center, this train set a world speed record. It was a magnet driven vehicle and forerunner of Japan’s bullet trains. Then Caz went to the Pullman Car Co. in Lansing IL, which was acquired by Allied Signal, to develop a concept locomotive. He also monitored and tested most of the electric motors used in “People Movers”. Additionally, he was involved with the purchase of testing of computer components used thru out the Allied Signal system used in house. Caz finished his career as a highly esteemed employee of the Honeywell Areospace Division as an outside purchasing representative. At age 65, Caz retired and a year later with his wife already passed away, he moved back to the area, residing near his brother, Thaddeus. Caz loved dogs and the local folks knew him as the guy who drove around town with a big dog in the back of his vehicle. Every day he ate breakfast at the Cozy Kitchen with the same guys and every evening he went thru Hardees drive-thru for 2 roast beefs, one for him and one for his dog. Caz spent 2 years in the Neillsville Care and Rehab and considered many of his caretakers to be valued friends.
Casimir was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn, brother, Thaddeus Zajac and sisters, Joan Hennion and Marion Ziegler.
He is survived by a few nieces and nephews including, Dennis Zajac, Cheri Boock, Dwight Ziegler and Erline VandeBerg and a very special great-niece, Marcia Gross, who tended to his care in the last few years of his life.
A Memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, February 7, 2019 at the Gesche Funeral Home with a celebration meal to follow.
Online Condolences may be made at www.geschefh.com.
The Gesche Funeral Home is assisting Casimir’s family with funeral arrangements.