Edward Leonard Zawitoski, a World War II veteran, and former chief auditor for NASA and father of seven , grandfather of fourteen and great-grandfather of three, died peacefully on August 23, 2013, after a brief illness. He was 91.
Born in 1922 to Polish immigrants Frank Zawistowski and Josephine Gregorek, Mr. Zawitoski was one of seven children. The family lived in a humble home in Curtis Bay, Maryland, where the only source of heat was a coal stove in the kitchen and where the only bathroom was an outhouse in the back yard. Mr. Zawitoski's father worked at Maryland Drydock shipyard as a riveter until he developed a heart condition and Mr. Zawitoski's mother became the family breadwinner. From the age of 6 Mr. Zawitoski worked alongside his mother and several of his siblings, picking and canning vegetables at local farms from May to September to support the family. As a result, he missed many weeks of school every year, making it difficult for him to catch up.
As an older teenager, Mr. Zawitoski played football for the Curtis Bay Athletic Club as #32, a fullback and middle linebacker. He helped the Club win the City Title in 1939 and 1941. He was being scouted by colleges to play football when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He joined the Navy in December, 1942 at age 20 as an Electrician's Mate 3rd Class, with the hope that his service would keep his younger brothers from being drafted. He was assigned to an anti-torpedo PT boat in the Pacific Theater, but was re-assigned to a shoreside position in Honolulu. Shortly afterward, his former PT boat was sunk. While in Honolulu, he took many extension courses at local colleges.
After Mr. Zawitoski's honorable discharge from the Navy as an Electrician's Mate First Class on Christmas Eve 1945, Mr. Zawitoski returned to Curtis Bay, where he worked as a lineman for Baltimore Gas & Electric Company and continued to play semi-pro football. In the Fall of 1947, he met the late Jean Marie Given when he offered to drive home a group of nurses from Saint Agnes Hospital after their late shift was over. After accepting a proposal from Jean on Valentine's Day in 1948, the couple was married on September 12, 1948.
Mr. Zawitoski was always grateful for the post-War "GI Bill", which enabled him to earn a degree in accounting from Baltimore Business College and to buy his first home. During the late 1950's and early 1960's, Mr. Zawitoski worked as an auditor for the USDA's Forest Service. Driving the family station wagon, he took his wife and their four pre-school children on cross country business trips. After President Kennedy announced his goal in 1961 of sending a man to the moon, Mr. Zawitoski was inspired to join NASA, where he worked as an auditor until the late 1970's when he retired from federal service.
He was a life-long Democrat and very active in politics. One of his biggest thrills was attending the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964. He and Mrs. Zawitoski were the co-founders of the "Consolidated Democratic Club" in Arbutus, Md.
Mr. Zawitoski raised his family on Francis Avenue in Relay, Maryland until retiring with his wife to Englewood, Florida in 1990. After moving to Florida, he took up golf and bike riding for the first time at age 70. Until he was 88, he played golf often and went to the gym six days a week, exercising for three hours at a time. Upon Mrs. Zawitoski's death in March, 2011, Mr. Zawitoski moved back to Maryland, and lived with his daughter, Denise Keehner, where he enjoyed listening to classical music, reading and painting.
Mr. Zawitoski is survived by his 7 children, JoAnne Zawitoski Fernandez, Denise Keehner (Eleanor Nolan), Christina Englehart (Scott), Edward M. Zawitoski (Gina), John Zawitoski (Donna), Gregory Zawitoski (Denise), and Tracy Blauch (Daniel), all of Maryland. He also leaves behind 14 grandchildren: Carolyn Colbey, Joseph Englehart, Nicholas Fernandez, Jared Fernandez, Jocelyn Keehner, Daniel Zawitoski, Andrew Zawitoski, Justin Zawitoski, Michael Zawitoski, Christopher Zawitoski, Zachary Zawitoski, Haley Zawitoski, Julianne Blauch and William Blauch; and 3 great-grandchildren, Joshua Englehart and Mason and Aubriella Colbey. He is also survived by his brother, Karol Zawitoski, of Naples, Florida and Cape Isle of Wight, Md., and many nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are invited to gather at Gary L. Kaufman Funeral Home at Meadowridge Memorial Park, 7250 Washington Blvd., Elkridge, MD on Wednesday, August 28th from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church, 5976 Old Washington Blvd.,Elkridge, MD on Thursday, August 29 at 9:30 a.m. Burial will follow in Crownsville Veteran's Cemetery.