Eulogy of Dan Zaremba
1914 - 1991

St. Louis Catholic Church, Floodwood, Minnesota

This morning we have all gathered to pay our last respects to Daniel Zaremba - "Uncle Dan" to me. We've gathered from many different states. From New York, Mimi, Beverly and her son Joey have come. Others have journeyed from Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. His brothers - my Uncle Tom and Grandfather Walter, and sister Auntie Stella and Aunt Mary are all here. Only Auntie Francis was unable to come. Nor are others that Uncle Dan cared about and that cared about him all here.

It is impossible to review a person's life in a few short minutes. I trust that many of you gathered here today have your own memories and recollections of Uncle Dan. I encourage you all to share your memories of him with each other as we break up into groups later today.

We all face infinite possibilities in living our lives. Uncle Dan chose a life among these possibilities: a commitment to serve our country, a passion for preparing food, a love of travel, and a never-ending quest for fish.

Uncle Dan was able to combine many of his loves and talents. While in his career in the military, first in the army, and later in the Air Force, he was primarily a cook. He served in the Pacific Theatre in World War II and in the Korean Conflict as well. When Uncle Dan retired, he had achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. Dan was proud of the meals he prepared, especially the huge turkey dinners he would make for the troops. His tour in the military brought him around the world. Upon retirement from the service, Uncle Dan, perhaps better known as "Sarge" kept on traveling and cooking.

He held a deep respect for the United States. My Mom recalls that during a visit to Uncle Dan in New York, he daily raised the flag in the morning and lowered and folded it at night.

I remember best his summer visits to Minnesota. I still remember the anticipation when I'd hear Mom or Dad say those magic words - "Uncle Dan is coming." A visit from Sarge meant a couple of things to me - a fishing vacation and lots of great food, most often both in the same day.

We went on fishing trips with Sarge up to the end of the road in Manitoba, to the Boundary Waters, and other places as well. Time was irrelevant to Sarge when it came to fishing. Uncle Tom remembers waking up at 4:00 in the morning in order to be on Spider Lake by dawn - only to be skunked all day. Years later, nestled in the bluffs in northeastern Iowa, trout fishing with my Dad, he declared he was tired of watching other people catch trout and he wanted to catch some. Once again, a pre-dawn wake-up was in order to get Sarge to a "can't miss" stretch of trout water at sunrise. This time Sarge caught fish.

In his summer visits to Minnesota, he traveled across the U.S. with his truck and travel trailer. He finally settled into a custom of visiting Minnesota in the summers and Florida in the winters. Dan was meticulous about his travel among other things. He was never in a hurry to drive anywhere and he painstakingly recorded every gasoline purchase in a log book that recorded the date, location, mileage on the truck, and price of the gas.

Because he traveled so much, Sarge created many different "homes." His first home was in Floodwood, and it is here he returns to be buried. Uncle Tom recalls that when he returned to his childhood home, he always fit in. His concern for his family was evident by his care for his mother. When Uncle Dan's mother became ill, he requested a transfer to the Duluth Air Force base so he could be closer to her. He was granted the transfer and commuted to work from Floodwood.

As well as his home here, Sarge had other places which were his home. In New York, he left behind a group of people who were close to him, people who experienced sorrow at his death. During the course of his medical treatment, we are thankful for the care given by Mimi and Beverly. An important part of his life there was the energy and excitement of little Joey. And just last month, Sarge was busy baking for the staff of the VA hospital in Buffalo, a group of people who share our sorrow and prayers.

Even though Dan is no longer with us, there are numerous things we'll take with us. Beverly will always remember Dan's Peking Duck and lasagna. Our family will remember the special stuffing he showed my Dad which we still have every Thanksgiving.  Likewise, Judy Zaremba's famous gulumpkes are another of Dan's recipes.

I can think of no more fitting gathering to commemorate his life than for his family and friends to get dressed up nicely, as he would, gather together and partake of some food prepared like he showed us how, and to swap fish stories. Uncle Dan's life was a full life. He was blessed during his life and spread those blessings to those around him. He will be missed.