My father, Andrew Zaloga, passed away on Thursday February 27 in the early hours of the morning after a hard-fought battle with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare bone marrow cancer. To all that have donated blood or platelets in the past, I thank you, because his fight would not have been possible without the generosity of people like you. He was a day short of his 71st birthday. He passed in the presence of his beloved sons and was surrounded by his close friends and family throughout his fight until the very end. His funeral will be held at St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic church on Saturday, March 7 at 12 PM.
Andrzej Załoga was born in the town of Prudnik, in southern Poland, to Mieczysław Załoga and Eugenia Kisly on February 28, 1949. He had an older sister, Halina, whom he loved dearly. He spent his formative years in the city of Białystok, northeast of Warsaw. He studied at the University of Warsaw where he earned a degree in Physics and Mathematics. Shortly after graduation he was invited by his maternal grandfather to the United States, marking the start of his journey in pursuit of the American dream. He arrived in Cleveland and developed a lifelong affinity for that city, founded largely upon the enduring friendships he cultivated during that time.
He left Cleveland in search of the sun and the great outdoors, bringing him to San Diego. He was a lover of watersports and skiing and shared the love for both with his sons. Some the most wonderful moments we shared together were trips to Big Bear, Lake Tahoe, and Mammoth Lakes where he always displayed a kindness and patience in cultivating our love for those sports as well. On an early childhood trip to Brianhead, Utah he introduced me to skiing. Years later as I was entering adolescence, I chose to take up snowboarding and despite his initial disdain for the sport, as a result of his typically conservative disposition, he patiently stood by in the exact same place while I learned all over again so that we could continue sharing more of those moments he cherished so much.
His faith and culture were inextricably linked. He introduced my mother and my Mexican grandmother to his homeland upon the occasion of my baptism, a dream of his that brought two very different worlds together. Since moving to San Diego, he became an active member of the Polish Catholic church and remained so throughout his life. Trips to Europe often involved a religious theme to them, like one of our most memorable summer trips which was centered around our visit to Rome so that we could celebrate mass with the late Pope John Paul II.
He was a lover of music and dance. I can’t say that I shared the passion of dance with him, but I always admired his confidence. It was in this way that he met my mother, and years later, how he would meet his late wife Sharon Zaloga. He was a dedicated father and husband. Family is what drove him to work so hard his entire life and to always provide the best life possible for those he loved.
He was a taciturn man, and at times brooding, but when he flipped the switch, his smile brought joy to any room. He was never quite the life of the party, but he always brought life to a party. There was a very uncomplicated generosity to his spirit. When he invited someone into his house it was always an expression of love and appreciation for being let into their lives.
He is survived by his niece, Anita Murawska; his stepdaughters, Debbie and Loni Palladino, and grandkids Hannah and Isaac; and his children, Arthur and Clare, Albert, and grandson Gabriel. In lieu of flowers we ask that friends donate in his name to the Myelodysplastic Syndrome Foundation at mds-foundation.org.
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