LAMBERTVILLE - Zenon J. Rowicki, a retired postal worker, life master bridge player, and Polish immigrant who survived two Nazi concentration camps, died yesterday in St, Vincent Mercy Medical Center from complications of a stroke. He was 73.
Mr. Rowicki was 11 when the Germans invaded his homeland in 1939. Five years later, the Nazis arrested him and shipped him to Germany, where he was interned in the Flossenburg and Dachau concentration camps, according to his daughter, Anne Marie Rowicki.
“He spent six to eight months in the camps,” Ms. Rowicki said. “He was liberated in 1945 shortly after he arrived at Dachau.”
Mr. Rowicki immigrated to the United States in the early 1950s, his daughter said. He decided to settle in the Toledo area because he knew people here.
He worked for a while for the Stranahan family, whose estate on West Central Avenue became Wildwood Preserve Metropark.
“He was a butler and a chauffeur,” Ms. Rowicki said. “Then he sold real estate. Finally, he took the civil service test and got into the post office.”
Mr. Rowicki worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 22 years, retiring as a supervisor in 1988.
After his liberation by the U.S. Army in 1945, he was sent to a hospital to recuperate from the near starvation he had endured. It was during this convalescence that he took up bridge, which became his lifelong pastime.
He was awarded his life master's certificate in 1973. Right up to the days before his death, he “played bridge over the Internet with people all over the world,” Ms. Rowicki said.
He and his wife, Dorothy, who died in 1997, were married for 33 years.
Mr. Rowicki was a member of the Polish War Veterans Post 74 and the Toledo Bridge Club.
Surviving are his daughter, Ann Marie Rowicki; brother, Tadeusz Rowicki, and three grandchildren.
A Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Adalbert Catholic Church, 3233 Lagrange St. There will be no visitation.
Arrangements were by the Urbanski Mortuary.