By kalea hall
Stories of Robert Zedaker Jr.’s legacy go on and on: a family man, a businessman and a community man.
“He was a giant among men with a gentle soul,” said Elinor Zedaker, Robert’s wife of 47 years.
Robert — at age 71 — would continue in his positions on numerous community boards and organizations if not for his unexpected death Monday.
“He was just made of a lot of good” traits, Elinor said.
Robert was born Oct. 22, 1942, in Youngstown but was a lifelong resident of Poland. He graduated from Poland Seminary High School and went on to study at Youngstown State University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also served in the Vietnam War as a sergeant with the 7th Squadron of the 1st Air Cavalry “BlackHawks,” Headquarters Company.
He was dedicated to his profession as co-owner of Poland Concrete Products, which was founded by his father and grandfather in 1947.
“He really enjoyed it,” Elinor said.
Although his work brought him joy, his dedication to the Boy Scouts of America as Poland’s Troop 44 scoutmaster for more than 20 years also gave him joy in mentoring hundreds of Scouts.
“Bob, when you looked at him, lived his life by the oath and law of the Boy Scouts,” said Jason Wolf, executive director of the greater Western Reserve Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, according to Scout law. Robert embodied each one of those characteristics.
“He mentored others and led by example,” Wolf said. “It is a great loss to have someone [gone] with his character and enthusiasm for life.”
Martin LaRue, fellow member of the scouts and a longtime friend, said the community “is a better place for him and I am a better person for having known him,” LaRue said.
In addition to his time spent as a scoutmaster, Robert also was a dedicated, lifelong member of Poland Presbyterian Church. He was a representative to the Western Reserve Fire District Board, he served as the chairman of the Poland Forest Foundation Board, was the former president of the local chapter of Gyro International, and he was involved with a host of other clubs.
Robert loved travel and adventure. Often, when Elinor and Robert went on vacation, they were invited to take a first-class airplane seat.
“For some reason, there was something about him that people tuned in to,” Elinor said. “Travel won’t be the same without him.”
Robert was Joe Mazur’s best friend. He remembers when his neighbors, Elinor and Robert, got married and came down from Poland Presbyterian in a horse-drawn carriage.
“He will be deeply missed,” Mazur said. “Poland Manor will never be the same. He is the most unforgettable character.”
Robert’s memorial service will be at 11 a.m. today at the Poland Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Dr. David Gilbert officiating.
The family requests that gifts take the form of contributions to the Robert Zedaker Memorial Fund at any PNC Bank branch.