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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2004

Former union official was a skilled accordion player

Robert Zielinski, 63, a former official of the Amalgamated Clothing Textile Workers Union and a prolific local polka musician, died of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage yesterday in the Arbors at Sylvania Subacute and Rehabilitation Center.

Mr. Zielinski, who worked for Chase Bag Co. as an industrial sewing machine mechanic for almost 30 years, was born in Toledo. He graduated from Central Catholic High School.

"Bob was a happy-go-lucky fellow who loved to have fun and play music," said his wife, Joyce, whom he married in 1965.

Mr. Zielinski was a contract negotiator who fought hard for his fellow workers and helped establish the company's first pension plan, his wife said. He retired from Chase Bag in 1989.

An accomplished accordion player, Mr. Zielinski celebrated 40 years in the polka business in March, 2000. His band, the King's Men Orchestra, began as a four-piece band in 1960 and expanded to a 10-piece orchestra that recorded more than 20 albums.

He was a parishoner of St. Joseph Catholic Church for more than 20 years and served as a parish council president and sacristan. Mr. Zielinski played the first polka Mass at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church, recorded a polka Mass for shut-ins, and made several TV appearances.

Surviving are his wife, Joyce; daughter, Laura Estes; son, Christopher; a grandson, and a granddaughter.

Visitation will be after 4 p.m. tomorrow and after 2 p.m. Thursday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home. Services will be at 9:15 a.m. Friday in the mortuary and 10 a.m. in St. Joseph Church. The family suggests tributes to St. Joseph Catholic Church.

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