James (Jim/Ajax) Stanley (Nitti) Zajac, 90, Pulaski, tranquilly passed away at home on Monday, March 27, 2023, with his children at his side. He has joined his beloved wife, Helen F. (Berna) Zajac who entered the heavens on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. He and Helen were married almost 68 years before her passing.
Jim was born on Oct. 14, 1932, in Chicago, Illinois to Leo C. Zajac and Wanda (Krajewski) Zajac. Jim also was blessed to have loving stepfathers, Michael Nitti and Walter Zielinski. He attended grade school in Chicago and, after moving to Pulaski to work on his Uncle Ted Krajewski’s farm (south of Pulaski), attended Pulaski High School, graduating in 1950.
In 1953, Jim began active duty with the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict where his duty included working with the Nike missile program. While on leave in April of 1954, he married his darling Helen in Abrams, Wisconsin. After his honorable discharge in 1956, he completed the Electronics Technology Program at Oshkosh Institute of Technology while working as a machinist apprentice.
Jim’s career path included working at Peplinski True Value Hardware, Bay Communications, The White Elevator Company, Pulaski Chase Co-op, Warvel Wood Products, and McKeefry & Sons. In his spare time, Jim was honored to volunteer or serve with many Pulaski community organizations: Knights of Columbus, Holy Name Society, Village Board Trustee, ABVM Maintenance Committee, ABVM Lector and Usher, and St. Vincent De Paul Society. He was very proud of donating blood to the American Red Cross for two decades. Jim was also involved in Tattle Tales (ABVM) where he could be the true clown he was. He truly loved Pulaski and was committed to its growth and success.
Jim was a charter member of the Tri-County Volunteer Rescue Squad which began in 1969. He served as an EMT for over 20 years.
Jim traveled to Haiti several times with his classmate and friend, John Malcheski, via Friends of Haiti, establishing better living conditions for the Haitians. He was very touched by their kindness, friendliness, and gratitude.
A member of the Pioneer Tractor Cruisers since its inception, Jim proudly drove his 1949 Oliver Row Crop 77 with his club members to many church picnics, tractor shows, and other community parades and events. He especially enjoyed Pulaski Polka Days and its parade.
In 2022, Jim purchased a 1951 Nash Ambassador Custom…a true dream of his.
Jim loved polkas and had many favorite polka bands. You could hear him playing polkas loud and clear on Chicago Street all day long and into the night. He also enjoyed country music from the 40’s – 70’s. He was quite a singer, or so he thought. He was an avid reader of mystery and suspense and was a WWII airplane buff.
Jim will be deeply missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his four children and their spouses/significant others: Neil (Jeanne) Zajac, Pulaski; Terry (Linda) Zajac, Marinette; Kelly Zajac (special friend, Sheila Farrell), Pulaski; and Neva (Steve) Paque, Sobieski; eight grandchildren: Zachery Zajac (Karoll Gamarra), Florida; Christopher Zajac, Green Bay; Teira (Nick) La Brie, Florida; Tesia (Dylan) Dixon, Maryland; Robyn and Chase Zajac-Elsbecker, Pulaski; Nicholas Zajac (special friend Sami Peters), Sobieski; Parker Christiansen (special friend Katie Heagle), Gillett; Marisa (Michael) Leidig, Howard; six great-grandchildren: Kasey Mae Zajac, Alaina and Jay LaBrie, Kaylee and Caleb Zajac and their mother, Dana Schwartz, and Alice Zajac-Elsbecker; a brother, Michael (Mickey) Nitti; sisters-In-law: Esther Baugnet, Green Bay and Mildred Wildt, Montello; special pals/friends: Ron Banaszynski, Lon and Carol Bartelt, Dave and Carol Dittmer, Ron Melchert, Lynn Zajac, Julie Adamski, Colleen Walgurski, Uncle Cyril and Aunt Jackie Krajewski, cousins, nieces, nephews and Pulaski HS Classmates of 1950, who he enjoyed tremendously.
In addition to his wife, Helen and parents, Leo and Wanda, he was preceded in death by two step-fathers, Michael and Walter; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mike and Anna Berna; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law: John Berna, Irene (Ray) Thompson, Gerard (Marilyn) Berna, Grace Berna, Jack Wildt, and Ken Baugnet.
Friends are invited to gather at Assumption B.V.M. Church, 119 E. Pulaski St., Pulaski, on Tuesday, April 11, from 9 a.m. until 12 noon. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12 noon with Fr. James Esser, O.F.M. presiding. Military honors rendered by the Pulaski Area Veterans will follow at the church. Burial will take place in spring in the parish cemetery.
Online condolences may be offered to Jim’s family at www.marnochafuneralhome.com or on the Marnocha Funeral Home Facebook page.