By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Cliff “Zak” Zakrzewski, a former Toledo police officer who stayed active after his retirement, died Sunday in Toledo Hospital. He was 71.
The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, family members said.
Mr. Zakrzewski was born and raised in Toledo and attended Woodward High School. Immediately after graduating in 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for the tail end of World War II and was stationed in the Philippines.
After leaving the Navy, he returned to Toledo and started work at the Willys Overland plant, working in the Jeep body shop. He remained at Willys until joining the Toledo police department in the 1950s.
“He had a great way of working with people as a policeman, because everybody respected him,” said Tricia Hines, one of his daughters. At various times, Mr. Zakrzewski was a neighborhood beat cop, a downtown traffic controller, and dispatcher. In one incident she remembered, her father talked a distraught man out of committing suicide.
Throughout his time on the force, he kept up with one of his hobbies: drumming. A former drum major at Woodward, he spent nearly every weekend as an adult performing big band jazz and Polish music at neighborhood weddings, and he played in a local drum-and-bugle corps.
“His father had been a drummer before him, and he gave him lessons and got him started,” Ms. Hines said.
After 30 years on the force, he retired in 1984. He played golf regularly in two police retiree leagues, and he kept playing golf until a week before his death. He did lawn work for elderly neighbors, built model cars for his nephew, and did chauffeur work for Owens-Illinois.
“He loved helping people,” his daughter said. “His life revolved around being active and happy and helping others.”
One of his favorite activities was taking a long drive every Sunday afternoon “if the weather was good,” she said. “We might drive 200 miles on a Sunday, a mini-adventure. We’d go to Indiana or to Michigan. It just relaxed him, the fresh air, looking at new places and learning about them,” she said.
He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion.
Surviving are his wife, Alice; two daughters, Tricia Hines and Pamela Rybka; two brothers, Lucien and Richard Zakrzewski, and a sister, Betty Dossatt.
The body will be at the Walker Funeral Home, Maumee, after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Mass will be held Thursday at St. Hedwig Catholic Church. The time has not been set.
The family requests tributes be made to St. Hedwig Parish.