Albin A. "Ben" Ziaja, 90, of Fairview Heights, Ill., born July 26, 1926, in East St. Louis, Ill., passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, surrounded by family.
He was a loving and compassionate man who always had a kind word and smile for everyone he met.
Ben was born the youngest son of Kazimierz "Carl" and Anielia Ziaja. He attended St. Adalbert Grade School and Central Catholic High School. He proudly served in the United States Coast Guard Maritime Division during World War II, in both the European and Pacific Islands conflicts. After 40 years with Taystee Bread Co. and later Continental Baking Co., Ben retired from his position as a sales supervisor. He then enjoyed nearly 30 years of retirement, spending time with his family, playing golf, traveling, polishing his cars, tending his lawn and dancing with Betty, his bride of nearly 68 years.
Ben was devoted to his Catholic faith and in recent years was a member of St. Henry's Church in Belleville, Ill. He was also a long time member of Holy Angels Church in East St Louis, Ill., where he sang in the choir and served as president of the Holy Name Society. Ben was a member of the Swansea Moose Lodge and an active member of the Fairview Heights Exchange Club for many years, once holding the position of president.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Joseph and John; and a sister, Bernice, nee Ziaja, Broderick; also by dear lifelong friends, Lillian and Henry Glowacki and Bud and Ag Recklein.
Surviving and left to mourn Ben's passing are the love of his life, Betty, nee Bockhorst, Ziaja, whom he married on Jan. 29, 1949; daughters, Jane (Timothy) Abbott and Lynn (Terry) Thies, who not only lost their dad but also a source of unwavering acceptance and unconditional love. That love extended to his grandchildren, Brian (Jen) Thies, Timothy (Lauren) Abbott, Adam (Katie) Thies and Abby (Daniel) Thies Lybarger and to his great-grandchildren, Kyle Lybarger, Ziaja Abbott, Morgan Thies, Kayla Lybarger, Michael Abbott and Hudson Thies, all who brought him tremendous joy and pride. Also surviving are his beloved sister, Cassie, nee Ziaja, Armstrong; and dear nieces and nephews.
The family is very grateful for the compassionate care given to Ben by the staff of HSHS Hospice of Southern Illinois, Dr. Paul Malcharek and staff and especially to Dr. Atul Shah and his staff, whose care added many wonderful years to his life.
In keeping with Ben's tenderhearted spirit and his desire to ensure everyone in his life always felt loved and special, he wished to apologize to anyone he may have unintentionally hurt or unknowingly offended during his lifetime.
Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.kasslyfuneral.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Vincent de Paul, St. Henry's Church, 5315 West Main St., Belleville, Ill. 62226, or HSHS Hospice Southern Illinois, 304 West Lincoln, Suite 580, Belleville, Ill. 62220, and will be accepted during visitation.
Visitation: Friends may visit from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 at St Henry's Catholic Church Belleville, Ill.
Funeral: Memorial Mass begins at noon Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 at the church with Rev. Kenneth York and Msgr. John Myler officiating. Private interment of cremains will follow at St. Adalbert Cemetery, Fairview Heights Ill.
KASSLY MORTUARY, Fairview Heights, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Nov. 27, 2016