Joseph R. Zabrocki SMSgt USAF (Ret)
June 18, 1928 – December 27, 2018
Preceded in death by wife Marge and son-in-law Steve Pattrin.
Survived by children Darrell (Cathy) Zabrocki, Lynnee Pattrin, Dale (Jamie) Zabrocki, Michael (AnnMarie) Zabrocki and Patrick (Deb) Zabrocki; 13 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren; brothers Sylvester (JoAnn) and Larry (Dorothy); many loving relatives and friends.
Reception of Friends 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 10th with a Vigil Service at 7:00 p.m. both at Bellevue Memorial Chapel.
Memorial Service 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January 11th at the Capehart Chapel, 2500 Capehart Road, Bellevue.
Inurnment Bellevue Cemetery with Military Honors by the Offutt Air Force Base Honor Guard
Memorials Wounded Warrior Project or www.woundedwarriorproject.org
Joseph Raymond Zabrocki was born on the family farm outside of the town of St. Phillips, Montana, on June 18, 1928. He was the eldest of five children born to Henry and Victoria Zabrocki. The family would move to their own farm in 1931, just south of Wibaux, Montana. They lost that farm in 1937, during the Great Depression, and moved to town, where his father took a job with the county highway department. Joe went to school in Wibaux where he met his future wife, Marjorie. They both graduated in 1946. That spring, he joined the Army and was sent to Texas for boot camp, later deploying to Okinawa. He would visit Tokyo, Japan, and Hiroshima. He never discussed that experience except to say that it was a devastating place to witness. He stayed in the Army until 1949 when his last duty was part of Operation Snowbound. The northern plains were so snowed in that year that President Truman ordered the military to the rescue. Dad spent three months spending each day belted into the back of a C-47 transport dropping food, medicine, animal feed, and whatever was needed to survive the winter in Eastern Wyoming, Western Nebraska, and Western South Dakota. The roads were not cleared until April.
After leaving the army in 1949, he returned to Wibaux and married Marjorie May Carlson the following year. He had taken a job as a boiler cleaner for Northern Pacific where he had to crawl inside the engine and clean inside the steam boiler; a job that was secure as he was the only one skinny enough to get through the opening! The job didn’t last long. Three weeks after he was married, the Korean War broke out and he was recalled to active duty. He decided to join the Air Force, and would spend the next 17 years traveling the world.
The family began at Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Washington, in September 1951 with the birth of eldest son, Darrell. Daughter Lynnee followed in 1953, and son Dale in 1954 at March AFB, Riverside, California. The family was off to England in 1955 to stay for three years. During that time the Air Force took Joe to many places in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Arriving back in California in 1958, the family would move again in 1959 to Offutt AFB. Michael was born in 1959 and Patrick in 1961. In 1962 the family would move again to Earnest Harmon AFB, Stephenville, Newfoundland, to stay for three years. On the way back in late 1965, the family went through Detroit, Michigan. Dad had bought his first new car. They crossed the border into Windsor, Ontario, and drove the car off the assembly line and all the way to a new home in Bellevue, Nebraska.
Joe retired from the Air Force in 1967 as a Senior Master Sergeant. He began taking night classes at Bellevue College working on a degree in accounting. He graduated in 1970 having spent days working, nights going to classes, and studying when he could, setting a great example that was not lost on his children, as all five went on to graduate from college. He would spend the next 19 1/2 years as the office manager for the Omaha branch of the Iowa National Insurance Company. Retiring for the second time in 1990, he then went back to Offutt and worked in the civil service as manager of the base cash vault. This job was to make sure the bills got paid.
In 1998 he retired for the last time. Marge had retired from Bellevue Public Schools and they were off to new adventures around the country in their motorhome. They purchased a home in Apache Junction, Arizona, and would spend time there in the winter, coming back to Nebraska in the spring. Whether in Bellevue, or the Cedar Creek cabin on the Platte River, there were always warm family gatherings when they got home. Over the years, and up until recently, you could find Joe having breakfast with his kids every Saturday at the Downtown Coffee Shop. The family keeps growing with 13 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren at last tally!
Special thanks and gratitude go to Heritage Ridge, Bellevue, Dad’s home for the past 8 years, Hillcrest Rehab, the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department, and Nebraska Medicine – Bellevue, for their care and attention to our father, especially this past year.