Lee Zmolek, 91, died Saturday morning, September 1, 2018, at his home in Park Centre in Newton.
Visitation hours will be held on Thursday, September 6, 2018, between the hours of 5-7 pm at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton, to be followed by a Vigil at 7 pm. A funeral mass service will be held at 10:30 am on Friday, September 7, 2018 at Sacred Heart Church. Burial will take place at Sacred Heart Cemetery, with a lunch and fellowship time to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Progress Industries.
Leon Rudolph Zmolek was born May 28, 1927 in Tama County, Iowa. After graduating with honors from Tama High School, he served in the Navy from 1945 to 1947. In 1952, he graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering from Iowa State, where he met Mary Brandt, whom he married the same year. Lee worked for one year with Philips Petroleum in Borger, Texas, before returning with Mary in 1953 to settle in Newton, where Lee took a job at Maytag as plant engineer, retiring in 1993. Mary passed away in 2010.
Leon married Catherine Whalen Dexter in 2012.
Left to honor the memory of Leon are his wife Catherine; his elder brother Al; his sons Tom (Mary), Stuart and Michael; his daughter Paula (Steve) Eades; grand-daughters Laura Zmolek and Kate (Brian) Jackson; great-grandchildren Max, Conner, Genevieve and Aneliese; step-daughter Carene Larsen; step-sons Kerry Sieh and Rodger Sieh.
His family wishes to add:
At the height of the Great Depression in 1936, Leon lost his parents, George and Agnes. Elder Sisters Hattie and Pauline were adults. The five younger children were placed in the care of three aunts: Bill with Aunt Helen (Pete) Lyon; Lee and Al with Genevieve (Ed) Skala; and Marilyn and Bob with Rose Nechanicky (Adolph) Zmolek. Despite their early separation, the seven siblings remained close and held frequent reunions.
During 57 years of marriage, Lee and Mary advocated for individuals with autism or other disability, helping found many organizations, including Progress Industries of Jasper County and The Homestead of Polk County. In 1994, they received the Pioneer Award in Volunteerism from the National American Rehabilitation Association. Lee served the Sacred Heart parish in many capacities, including helping draft plans for the construction of McCann Center, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. Lee and Mary enjoyed many vacations throughout North America and Europe and took part in pilgrimages to holy sites in Israel, Italy, France and Venezuela.
In retirement, Lee donated blood and volunteered at tax time to assist with returns. In 2016, Lee stepped down from volunteer positions with the Newton Water Board after fifty-two years and from the Progress Industries Board after twenty years of service. Also in 2016, both Lee and Al took ‘Honor Flights’ to Washington, DC.
Lee enjoyed tinkering in his workshop, fixing cars, gardening, fishing, sailing and taking his son for walks in the fields. With Catherine, he enjoyed traveling, socializing, reminiscing about their childhoods and watching old musicals.
Above all, Lee will be remembered as a caretaker who loved God and sought to live according to the Prayer of Saint Francis.
We, at Pence~Reese Funeral Home and Cremation Services, believe that serving begins with caring and that caring is an attitude of the heart. We strive to express this attitude in our lives, in our business, and with our friends.
310 North 2nd Avenue East P.O. Box 576 Newton, Iowa 50208