In Memoriam – Stanley Zewski

NORTHAMPTON – Stanley V. Zewski, 82, of 39 Fair Street, passed away peacefully Thursday, May 1, 2014, in his home.

Born March 15, 1932, Stan was the only child of Victor and Catherine (Slaba) Zewski. He was a lifelong resident of Northampton and a graduate of Northampton High School.

In 1946, at the age of 14, Stanley started working at Foster Farrar Co., Northampton’s well known hardware store. This would be the one and only place Stanley worked for the next 50 years, retiring from Foster Farrar as the co-owner with Richard Rescia in 1996.

Stanley and Richard developed a lifelong bond, friendship, and eventual business partnership beginning in 1950 while Richard was a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Stanley worked at Foster Farrar. Richard joined Stanley as a clerk at Foster Farrar in 1952. Their strong bond and friendship was fostered and developed based on their similar backgrounds (born to ethnic parents, losing their fathers at the age of 10, and being raised by strong mothers), a strong work ethic, and wanting to succeed in business. Looking toward their futures, Stanley and Richard decided to invest in real estate rental property, creating StanDick Trust, one of Northampton’s most successful on-going businesses, in 1963. As friends and business partners, Stanley and Richard saw further opportunity to expand the business relationship by purchasing Foster Farrar in 1964. This was a great combination of businesses, real estate and hardware which led to a successful personal and business partnership that exceeded their expectations. Their businesses have become a recognized symbol of Northampton’s business strength and enhanced the quality of the city and surrounding area.

Stanley was well known throughout the city of Northampton and the surrounding area for his commitment to service and assisting those in need. One of the premier service organizations in the region that Stanley became involved in and became a recognized leader of was the Northampton Lions Club. Stanley became a member of the Lions April 25, 1965. Stanley attended his final Lions meeting the weekend of April 25-26, 2014, capping a 49 year commitment to this organizations values and service to others. During his career of service to the Lions, Stanley served as the president, treasurer, zone chair and region chair for district 33Y. Stanley received many awards including the Melvin Jones Award in 1983, the International President Certification of Appreciation in 1994, and the Progressive Melvin Jones Award in 2003. Throughout his career of volunteerism and service to others with the Lions, Stanley was involved in mid-winter conferences and testimonial committees for district 33Y and chaired 19 different committees. No matter what was asked of Stanley, whether to sell tickets, direct traffic, cook at a picnic, or chair the event, he was there to help out, no matter what the job.

A lifelong bachelor, at the age of 54, Stanley married Velia Orsini Nov. 8, 1986, enjoying 18 wonderful years together. Sharing similar interests and values, together they continued to be involved in the Northampton community in the spirit of volunteerism and service to others. Included in this community activity was one of their passions, the Commonwealth Opera. Stanley and Val were noted for building and painting the sets used by the opera. They continued their community activity with a spirit of joy and fulfillment, until Val’s untimely passing in January 2005. Val’s passing was difficult for Stanley. However, as time passed and with his commitment toward living life to its fullest, Stanley continued to move forward maintaining his commitment to volunteerism and service to others.

Living life to its fullest for Stanley included traveling. Stanley traveled throughout his life, visiting many countries and numerous states within the United States. He continued his community activity and love of travel with his dear friend and loving companion, Mary Blajda. Though evident throughout his life, Stanley’s devotion to volunteerism, inside and outside the Lions, increased after he “”retired”” from Foster Farrar in 1996.

Stanley was also very active in his church, first St. John Cantius and then St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton, in many capacities. He chaired many committees and councils, including the Parish Council, Annual Catholic Appeal, various fund raisers and the establishment of the church book store. He further assisted his parish as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Alter Server.

Stanley was a very active member and supporter of the Polish Heritage Committee, embracing his heritage. One of his key enjoyments in this committee was to help organize and prepare large “”family”” dinners for over 300 people. Stanley was the first to arrive and the last to leave. No matter what the organization or event, Stanley would always show up with a gentle smile, and a calm and “”can do”” attitude. As part of his commitment to those in need, Stanley was a loyal donor and volunteer with the Northampton Survival Center and the Interfaith Cot Shelter, helping to provide food and shelter to those struggling throughout Hampshire County. Stanley was noted as someone that could always be counted on to be there at a moments notice with anything the shelter needed, from ordering and installing a new oven, to shampoo or a gallon of milk for breakfast.

The City of Northampton and the surrounding community has lost a leader and role model for volunteerism and selfless commitment of service to those in need. Stanley Zewski’s passing leaves large shoes to fill, but a clearly marked path for others to follow.

Stanley leaves his cousins Bernice Laprade and her husband Robert of Southampton, and their children Jennifer Therrien and her husband Christopher of Westhampton, and Brian Laprade of Southampton, James Zachazewski and his wife Miriam McKendall of Needham, John and Patricia Zach of Willmingon, Vt., Emily and Walter Dragon of Florence, Thomas and Alice Zach of Easthampton, Joanne and Larry Cannon of Leesberg, Fla., and Diane and Robert Novak from Connecticut, and his dear friend and loving companion Mary Blajda of Hadley.

Calling hours will be Wednesday, May 7, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Czelusniak Funeral Home of Northampton. Funeral services will be Thursday, May 8, from the Czelusniak Funeral Home of Northampton at 8:45 a.m. with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, King Street, Northampton. Burial will follow in the Holy Rosary Cemetery in Hadley.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Stanley’s memory may be made to the Northampton Survival Center, 265 Prospect St., Northampton, MA 01060, or the Interfaith Cot Shelter, 43 Center St., Northampton, MA 01060.

Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette from May 5 to May 6, 2014