Zdenek Rudolf Marek, known by most as “Zee,” passed away peacefully of natural causes on March 29 in the company of his family at the Kingston Hospital. He was 93.
Zee was born in Prostejov, Czechoslovakia on October 16, 1925, and attended the University of Prague.
As a talented ice hockey player, Zee was selected to play the center-forward position for the Czech national hockey team, which won the World Ice Hockey Championship against Sweden in 1949. Immediately afterwards, Zee defected to the U.S. with the assistance of members of the U.S. Olympic hockey team. He was granted a full scholarship to the University of North Dakota, and gained permanent residence in the U.S through an Act of Congress on November 27, 1950. After graduating from UND, Zee moved to New York City whereby he became a successful designer of women’s dresses under his own label, Marek Inc., as well as a private label designer for many of the most prominent Fifth Avenue department stores.
An elite athlete, Zee was a skier, scuba diver and lifelong competitive tennis player, and went on to win the New York State Men’s 75+ Singles tennis championship in 2001. For those who knew him well, Zee will also be remembered for his tremendous energy, enthusiasm, sincerity, honesty, love of life, appreciation of classical music, talent as a violinist, and most of all for being an extraordinary, nonconformist father, grandfather, uncle and friend.
A home-owner in Phoenicia since the 1980s, Zee made Phoenicia his permanent residence in 2006, where he has been known as a sports car enthusiast and frequent lector at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church.
Zee is survived by his wife Jessica Marek, and his longtime companion Irene (Rene) Lynch; his daughter, Melissa Marek Babb, her husband Philip Babb, and their children Isabelle and Oliver; his daughter, Cynthia Marek Milgroom, her husband Jeff Milgroom, and their son Tyler; and his daughter, Suzy Marek Armstrong, her husband Matt Armstrong, and their children Dylan and Ashton.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Francis de Sales Church, 104 Main Street Phoenicia, New York on May 11 at 11:00 a.m., with Father Raphael Iannone officiating. Interment will follow at the St. Francis de Sales Cemetery in Allaben. The family suggests memorial donations may be made to St. Francis de Sales Church. You may share a special memory on Zee’s Tribute Wall at www.gormleyfuneralhome.com. Funeral arrangements under the direction of the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home, 87