Zygmunt Gasiorowski

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Athens - On April 14, 1919 on an estate near Czestochowa, Poland a remarkable individual was born. Zygmunt Jerzy Gasiorowski would live and thrive through some of history's most perilous and triumphant moments. A member of a prominent family, his youth was typical of his background. He grew up in cultured surroundings with three sisters, Wanda, Danuta, and Krystyna, in a home filled with books, social gatherings, and conversation about world events. Educated at a private school, he learned languages, mathematics, literature, and the foundation of a life of learning.
The period between World War I and World was II was politically perilous. As a child of eight he began reading newspapers to follow world events. His life changed forever on September 1, 1939 when the Nazi blitzkrieg descended on Poland. A junior officer in the Polish army he and his fellow soldiers fought a hopeless battle against the German onslaught.
Determined to save his life he began a journey that took him from Poland to Hungary to France and England. With members of a remnant of the Polish army, he boarded a ship in La Rochelle to cross the English Channel. The expedition took two days which Zygmunt spent standing on a packed top deck while the Luftwaffe strafed and bombed the fleet making its way to freedom. Many perished.
The Polish army regrouped in Great Britain. Safeguarding a bombed and beleaguered land, Polish forces then joined Allied troops invading Europe in 1944. At war's end the Soviet Union dominated Poland. Zygmunt Gasiorowski was stateless.
After graduating from the London School of Economics, he obtained a scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley and began a new life in the United States. While working on a Ph.D. in history, he met his wife, Xenia, a fellow Pole. She became a professor of Russian and Polish literature at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
During his career Dr. Gasiorowski taught at Washington State, University of Hawaii, Harvard, and Berkeley before joining the history faculty at the University of Georgia in 1967. During breaks, vacations, and sabbaticals he and his wife lived in Madison, Wisconsin and travelled extensively in the US and Europe. Zygmunt Gasiorowski became an ideal American transplant prospering both professionally and economically.
After Xenia died in 1989, Zygmunt spent increasing periods of time in Athens, residing with the Haag family and his three goddaughters, and moved here permanently in 2002. Always a vigorous walker and swimmer, he enjoyed a life full of books, travel, conversation, and debate. He took pleasure in watching the Haag sisters grow up, marry, and begin a new generation.
He is survived by John, Karin, Krysia, Michelle, Tamara, and Lydia Haag, as well as by his niece Anna Wojtowicz, nephew Marcin Pomirski, and wife's niece Ewa Boniecha-Bromke and their families in Poland. He died at home in Athens on November 20, 2011 aged 92, a contributor to an exhilarating era in world history. His kindness, joy, scholarship, and love remain a testimony to a life well lived.
Lord & Stephens East is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com
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Lord & Stephens Funeral Home - East Chapel
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Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Nov. 29, 2011
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