Sigmund A. "Ziggy" Wesolowski, 87.
Born on January 31, 1921, he was the son of the late Wojciech and Rose (Golas) Wesolowski and both hardworking immigrants from Poland. He spent his childhood years on Rodman Avenue in Shirley where a close family and a tight community instilled a strong sense of his Polish heritage. He graduated from Ayer High School, where he was president of his class, and was accepted to Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.
Following his graduation from Notre Dame University in 1942 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, he enlisted in the US Navy where he attended basic training and Officer's Candidate School in South Bend, Indiana, and Evansville, Virginia, before picking up his ship, LST 246. From 1942 to 1946, he served in the Pacific Theatre in the role of beach master and coordinated landings at Kwajalein and Enewetak Atolls, Palau, Saipan and Tinian Islands. Upon assignment to the staff of the Landing Craft Commodore in Iwo Jima, he was responsible for transferring supplies and troops into shore, and wounded soldiers back to the hospital ship. When under air attack while performing his duties, Mr. Wesolowski was injured in 1946 and transferred to Chelsea Naval Hospital where he received an honorable discharge as a Lieutenant Senior Grade. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation Medal. He was a member of the American Legion for more than 60 years.
After the war, he completed a program in textile engineering at the University of Lowell, while working at Samson Cordage and teaching mathematics and driver's education at Ayer High School. After several years with Arms Textile in Manchester, New Hampshire, he embarked on a career with Pandora Sportswear, Inc, an association that would define his professional career. He retired in 1989 as president of Pandora Sportswear. A natural leader, he was actively involved in several professional organizations, which included New England Knitted Outerwear Manufacturing Association and National Knitwear and Sportswear Association often serving as director, president or vice president.
In addition to his professional career, Mr. Wesolowski maintained an interest in community and national politics. Having settled in Shirley in 1946 with his wife, Gladys Pliska of Fitchburg, MA, he held a seat on the school committee, acted as town moderator and served as selectman for 12 years. His political interests expanded beyond Shirley when he became a campaign secretary to John F. Kennedy in 1959. Mr. Wesolowski and his wife attended the Kennedy inauguration in 1961. He served on the Committee of the Status of Women in the U.S. at the request of Eleanor Roosevelt during the Kennedy administration.
A communicant at St. Anthony's Church in Shirley, Mr. Wesolowski was a member of the Holy Name Society and frequent auctioneer at the church's annual bazaar. In 1985, he was inducted into the Knights of Malta at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Following a devastating fire in 1993, Mr. Wesolowski spearheaded, along with his good friend, the late Bob Lambert, the fundraising drive to rebuild St. Anthony's Church, a herculean effort at a time when the Boston Archdiocese was beginning to close parishes.
Lifelong pride in their Polish heritage brought Mr. and Mrs. Wesolowski to the Vatican on three occasions where they had private audiences with Pope John Paul II. Their warm and friendly conversations were conducted in Polish. Mr. Wesolowski ran a successful fundraiser for the Catholic University American Library on behalf of the John Paul Foundation.
Dedicated to service, Mr. Wesolowski was a member of the Ayer Rotary Club often designing and organizing new fundraising events. He also served on the executive committee of the board of directors for the Nashoba Valley Medical Center and was instrumental in building its emergency wing. Mr. Wesolowski also enjoyed his role as a member of the Board of Trustees of North Middlesex Savings Bank, a position he held for over 20 years until his "second" retirement in 2008.
An avid vegetable gardener all his life, Mr. Wesolowski was known for his rhubarb and basil at local farm stands. He enjoyed picking blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms, often sharing his bounty with family and friends. Fishing, chopping wood and playing the slot machines at Foxwoods were also favorite pastimes.
Mr. Wesolowski is survived by his wife of 65 years, Gladys; daughter Rosemary and Richard Cella of Leominster, and their children Angela and Jason Cella of Tampa, FL; daughter Joan Wesolowski and her daughter Hayle of Concord, daughter Diana Wesolowski of Northampton, daughter Lisa and her husband Jim Furnivall of Wilton, CT, and their sons Garrett and Jack; and sister Genevieve Kacmarczyk of Acton.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 AM Saturday, January 17th at St. Anthony's Church, 14 Phoenix Street, Shirley. Burial will be in the parish cemetery.
Calling hours are Friday, January 16th from 3:00 - 6:00. at the T.J. Anderson & Son Funeral Home, 25 Fitchburg Road, (Rte 2A) Ayer. Please see www.andersonfuneral.com for additional information.
Memorial contributions may be made in Mr. Wesolowski's name to the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association or a personal charity of your choice.