Henry H. Zygadlo

Zygadlo

Henry H. Zygadlo – “Far and away the best prize a life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt

Husband, father, community leader, friend. These words only scratch the surface to describe the life of Henry H. Zygadlo, who passed away peacefully on October 9, 2020, surrounded by his family.

After serving in the Marine Corps following graduation from Sayville High School, Henry earned a graduate degree in counseling from CW Post College and pursued Doctoral Studies in Administration at St. John’s University.

In 1963, he married Barbara Okvist and became the proud father of Mark, Scott and Kim. During these years, he supported the family as an elementary teacher, guidance counselor, administrative intern, and assistant to the superintendent for research and program development at Connetquot Central School District in Bohemia, NY. 10 years later he accepted the position of Superintendent of Mount Morris Central Schools in Upstate NY. These varied educational and professional experiences would make him the perfect person to lead the Indian River District to become a paragon of excellence. Under his guidance, keeping a sharp eye on an expanding Fort Drum, the school district became a multi-building complex, leading the way in academic, athletic and artistic opportunities. At the same time, his staff and teachers recall that Henry’s office was a space of engagement and compassion. No matter the pile of work on his desk, he was quick to put it aside to listen to others voice their concerns.

During Henry’s tenure at Indian River, which concluded with his retirement in 1994, Henry married Toni (Grieco) Crast, formerly of Adams Center, and adopted her son, Benjamin. Toni speaks of Henry’s varied talents and his voracious desire to learn. He was rarely seen without a book, often one detailing the life of Teddy Roosevelt, and frequently one on obscure subjects. Truly, he found everything interesting. While this love of knowledge meant he could easily crush opponents in a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit, it also meant that those seeking a short answer from him were likely to receive a long answer, full of history and detail. Frustrating yes, but certainly impressive. A brilliant mind. Also a talented artist and chef, spontaneous penciled drawings and a mouth-watering chicken stir fry were his specialties. Yet his childlike nature led him often to the dog pound, where he would stay to play with abandoned pups.

Even in retirement, Henry continued working as a Marketing Specialist for Bernier, Carr and Associates, but he took the time to volunteer at a number of organizations, and over the years joyfully taught his grandchildren, Kasha, Jack, Marlena and Audrey, to fish. Due to health issues in his later years, Henry resided at Samaritan Keep Home in Watertown, where he was known to many as “the professor.” He remained dedicated to the community until the end, volunteering in the Genealogy Department at Flower Memorial Library.

Much like his hero Teddy Roosevelt, Henry embraced life with a vigor and intensity that would benefit all of us. Equally at home in the serene woods of his hunting camp as he was in a bustling office, he was a true Renaissance man who thrived on knowledge and the creation of beauty in a work often lacking in it. His hard work and commitment to family made his a life worth living. In fact, a life worth emulating.

Services for Henry will be held in the springtime, in the hope that COVID will be behind us. In the meantime, donations can be made in his name to the ASPCA. Arrangements are entrusted to French Funeral Home in Gouverneur. Condolences may be shared online at www.frenchfuneralhomes.com.

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