SYRACUSE NY – Frederick M. “Fred” Zlomek, 87, of Syracuse NY, a loving husband, caring father and family man who was recognized several times during his life as a master salesman, died Thursday (April 24, 2014) of natural causes at Upstate Medical Center.
Fred was born in January 1927, the son of the late John and Eva Zlomek, both of whom had immigrated from Europe. Early on he learned carpentry skills from his father, which later served him well in assessing the value of real estate Fred purchased as investments, and in designing floor plans for their renovation.
He spent much of his youth living in New York’s Hudson Valley. He was a member of the Bells Pond NY 4-H Boys Club, and in October 1943 was elected its news reporter.
Fred studied horticulture at Cornell University and began his career selling seed, seedlings and floristry supplies for a regional wholesaler. He met his future wife, the late Muriel Dorothy Pyle Zlomek, then studying to become a home economics teacher, during a sales trip to Oneonta NY. They were married in 1952.
The young couple lived on South Street in Edmeston NY. For several years in the late 1950s, Fred was the village volunteer fund-raiser for the Northern and Southern Otsego County NY chapters of the American Red Cross, a member of the Edmeston Fire Company, and was active in financial affairs in the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church there.
The value of entrepreneurism and small business was one of Fred’s most strongly-held beliefs. He and his wife opened Frederick’s Home Furnishings in Edmeston only a few years after they were married. The store was known for becoming one of the few Central New York retailers to sell Lane-brand cedar chests, then one of the hottest furniture luxury commodities of the day. They operated it through the early 1960s before moving to Utica NY, where he began work in insurance sales with the Hearthstone Insurance Co.
In Utica, the family lived first on Emerson Avenue. They later moved into a sprawling three-floor former mansion on Prospect Street, where every child had his or her own bedroom and a list of Saturday morning cleaning chores. The Zlomeks were active in Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church.
Zlomek’s success with Hearthstone brought him to the attention of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., which first signed him as a sales agent and later promoted him as a territorial manager. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was considered one of Hancock’s top general agency representatives in the United States. He won several awards and recognitions for annual sales and performance records.
To keep their growing family occupied and productive during summer months, The Zlomeks returned to the Hudson Valley in the late 1960s and purchased a seasonal marina and restaurant in Copake Lake NY. They renamed it as Frederick’s Ship ‘N Shore. It was there that wife “Dot” also opened a boutique and hand-crafted gifts store.
The marina served two purposes, the couple later explained: over several years it provided a family vacation that practically paid for itself, and it gave their children a hands-on business education Fred considered a necessary life skill. The family’s boys were responsible for operating the lake docks, boat rentals, gasoline pumps and a car wash; the girls were responsible for operating the restaurant and a small adjacent grocery.
Fred later was active across New York and other Northeastern states on behalf of Mohawk Finishing Products. His understanding of carpentry, cabinetry, flooring and furniture made him a much-sought resource in the industry, and he was again honored for his sales prowess. He was known for keeping complete records on hundreds of his clients and their needs on small, hand-written sheets of paper that were bundled with rubber bands and stored in a coat pocket. The Zlomeks lived for several years in Liverpool, a Syracuse suburb, and Madison NY.
In the 1980s, as most of their children left home to attend schools or begin work, The Zlomeks retired, moved to North Carolina, and managed their own rental properties in Bridgeton and New Bern. They lived in a North 1st Avenue, New Bern, home they designed and for the construction of which Fred served as general contractor. Together they served in several ministry and other roles in St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in New Bern. Fred also was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, and for many years was a counselor in the New Bern chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
The Zlomeks returned to the Syracuse area during the late 2000s for health reasons. After his wife’s death Fred lived for several years at The Hearth On James retirement center in Syracuse. He was a parishoner of Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church on James Street.
Fred regularly claimed his proudest achievements in life were the seven college-educated children he and his wife raised.
Fred is survived by the couple’s seven children, Joseph M. Zlomek of Sanatoga PA, and his wife Debbie; F. Mathew Zlomek of Chittenango NY, and his wife Nancy; Elizabeth A. Zlomek of DeWitt NY; T. Peter Zlomek of Binghamton NY, and his wife Kathy; Mary F. Guditis of Chenango Forks NY, and her husband Chuck; Catherine S. Zlomek of Rockville MD; and Marc A. Zlomek of Washington DC, and his wife Stefanie; nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his wife, Dorothy, in November 2008; a brother, John C. Zlomek; a sister, Helen Cannon; and by a great-grandchild, Asia Rose Briel.
Viewing hours will be held Tuesday (April 29) from 4-7 p.m. at the Burns Garfield Funeral Home, 3175 E. Genesee St., Syracuse NY. Funeral services will be held Wednesday (April 30) at 10:30 a.m. in Blessed Sacrament Church, 3127 James St., Syracuse NY. Internment and a memorial mass will follow at a future time at St. Paul’s Church Cemetery, New Bern NC. Donations may be made in Fred’s name to a charity of your choice.