Alfred Marvin Zien had his heart stop in an ambulance on the way to Luther Hospital from Oakwood Villa/Altoona on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.
He was born on Dec. 19, 1935, at the home farm, to Albert and Ella (Mau) Zien. Alfred contracted rheumatic fever at age 3. He persevered lifelong multiple medical and physical challenges.
Living at Zastrow’s, Gilman, Fall Creek and Oakwood Villa Nursing Homes, he was well liked by staff and residents. Fortunately family members also cared for him, including Jane Toro and Rebecca Klingbeil. The past four years at Oakwood Villa was challenging and rewarding, especially with Paul, Leah, Joey and the total staff.
In past decades, the Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, congestive heart and respiratory hurdles never deterred his cheerfulness. Just five days before his passing, he was diagnosed with the Chinese Coronavirus with no symptoms until his last few hours.
Father Albert was a machine gunner on the front lines in French trench warfare, including serious exposure to mustard gas. He served with 2,350 fellow Chippewa County veterans, who mostly joined the famed U.S. Army 32nd Division.
Among the 160-plus WWI veterans just from Cadott were Harry and Otto Arneson, Lawrence Bourget, Edward G. Burish, John Couey, Lawrence Dugal, Adelbert Green, Harold Gundmanson, Roy Holtz (Chippewa Falls), Martin, James and Thomas Irwin, Morris Mickelson, George Pfaff, James Rykal and Henry Wenzel. The DNA in their descendants survive strong in this region, especially today.
Highway 29 is WWI Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Highway, named in honor of 122,000 plus WWI veterans and their families. Especially proud are neighbors in Clark, Eau Claire, Rusk and Taylor counties.
Alfred is survived by second cousins, Dale, Dave, Debra (Millar) and Jerry Zien; 11 third cousins and 13 fourth cousins.
He was preceded in passing by his dad, Albert; his mom Ella; his sister, Vernice and his first cousins, Allen, Carl, Catherine, Genevieve, Harold, LaVerne and Raymond Zien.
Alfred’s grandfather’s Lutheran-type family came to America in 1880s. The Catholics stayed in Germany. His great uncle, a colonel, was executed by Hitler in 1939 — apparently to conservative.
The hundreds of people that cared for or resided with Alfred over the years, describe him as simple and sweet. He was blessed with a savant-type phenomena. Alfred demonstrated that though physically and mentally challenged one can demonstrate that “everyone teaches, everyone learns!”
Often those unassuming and unexpected are the teachers. Appreciating everyone with a smile and laughing, Alfred loved Santa Claus and celebrated the Christmas mulit-dimensional spirit year round. His favorite song was, “You are my sunshine”.
He looked forward to bingo, meal time and recreational gatherings. Alfred stood vigil at the door, acknowledging visitors to the facility. Loving the Lord was obviously reciprocal.
Perhaps the message conveyed by people like Alfred who are either confined to long-care facilities, homebound or self quarantined is that they be celebrated by phone call, card or letter.
They/we all deserve to celebrate the Christmas spirit year around. Battlefield/deathbed religion, bucket lists, last hurrahs, time is too short to say out thank yous and apologies. Enduring everlasting prayers with constructive guidance is deservedly reciprocal.
When riding motorcycle with cousin, Dave, Alfred would hold both hands high-honoring the Harley Hallelujah. When asked why he was reluctant to put his hands down at high speeds and around curves, Alfred would say, “Alfred is trying to catch that wind!” Most certainly Alfred is now, “catching that wind-while celebrating Heaven’s majestic jubilance!”
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 19, at Leiser Funeral Home in Cadott with Rev. George Olinske Officiating. Inurnment will be in the Brooklawn Cemetery, Cadott, at a later date.
A visitation will be one hour prior to the services, Thursday, at the funeral home.