GENOA - Louise S. Zalesak, 79, who for nearly 30 years made sure that no teacher or bus driver absence in the Genoa Area Local Schools went unfilled by a substitute, died Sunday in St. Charles Mercy Hospital from complications of congestive heart failure.
She began in 1976 as the substitute scheduler and continued to work until late May. She took calls at home from teachers and other staff members who were ill and found replacements.
"She kept such accurate records that she knew which sub worked best with which class," her daughter Cathy Slovak said. "She enjoyed the teachers and all the staff. After my father died [in 1992], it gave her a new meaning in life."
Mrs. Zalesak also volunteered regularly at Brunner Elementary School, where she began in 1969 as a playground monitor. She was a high school teacher's aide for four years and was a cafeteria cashier at Allen Central Elementary School from 1976 to 1992.
Mrs. Zalesak grew up in Wales. She and her husband, Martin, met while he was stationed in England during World War II with the 8th U.S. Army Air Corps. They married Feb. 19, 1945. He'd grown up in Ottawa County, and they settled in Genoa. She became a U.S. citizen in the early 1950s. She was a Democrat and a precinct chairman who campaigned for her favorite candidates and worked the polls on election days. "She just loved America," her daughter said. "She was a very devout Catholic and devout to her country too."
She loved to knit, and many of the hats, coats, sweaters, and capes she made had intricate designs she'd worked out in her head.
Her husband died Sept. 2, 1992.
Surviving are her daughters, Barbara Edwards and Catherine Slovak; sons, Thomas, Richard, and Martin R. Zalesak; sisters, Freda Sealey, Margaret Evans, and Frances Holland; nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
The body will be in Robinson-Henn-Brossia & Walker Mortuary, Genoa, after 4 p.m. today, with a Scripture service at 8:30 tonight in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Genoa, of which she was a member.
The family suggests tributes to the church or to the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District Station No. 3.
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