Hilary Zawisza

Published 6:40 pm Friday, December 9, 2022

Feb. 15, 1932-Dec. 3, 2022


Hilary passed away on Dec. 2, 2022, at home surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife of sixty-seven years, Phyllis; five children, Julie Zawisza, Kris Zawisza, Kathy (John) Hall, Steve (Jan) Zawisza, Philip (Cecile) Zawisza; six grandchildren, Andrew (Nancy) Zawisza, Maria (Tim) Samsa, Kara (Michael) Fields, Christian Zawisza, Sophie Zawisza, Alice Zawisza; three great-grandchildren, Leo, Ada, and Isla Fields; and siblings Walter (Alice) Zawisza, Andrew (Terenia) Zawisza, and Genevieve (Bernard) Bournay.
Our beloved Hilary was born on Feb. 15, 1932, in the small village of Antonówka, Poland, to Jan and Tatiana Zawisza. Jan was a blacksmith and a farmer, Tatiana was a farmer and a homemaker, creating clothing for the family with her own loom. Around 1943, during the early stages of WWII, the family was forced to flee Poland, ended up in a number of “displaced persons” camps in Germany, and eventually were sent to farms and used as laborers. In 1949, after the end of the war, the family immigrated to the United States, through New York City. They worked for a farmer in Wisconsin, who sponsored them. They eventually heard of factory jobs in Michigan and moved to Dowagiac, Michigan, where Hilary met Phyllis. The couple married in 1955, and moved to Niles where they resided for forty years.
Hilary was first and foremost a family man. He was a man of character: honest, hardworking and loyal, especially to family. He passed these values down to his family. Hilary always enjoyed spending time with family, anything from birthdays to backyard barbecues, graduations, festivals, all the major holidays, special occasions, and more.
Hilary worked as a laboratory technician for Clark Equipment Company in Buchanan, Michigan for more than thirty years, running tests on various products for quality improvement. After retirement in 1995, he and Phyllis moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to be near their grandchildren. His six grandchildren were the light of his life.
While in Germany, Hilary was not allowed to attend school but earned his GED from Niles High School while working full time and after having five children. Despite not attending higher education, Hilary was self-motivated to learn and was considered a mechanical genius by his family. He could “fix anything,” including the furnace, washer and dryer, all appliances, cars, and electronics. The answer to “how do I fix this?” was “call dad” or “call grandpa.” Hilary especially loved electricity and solving electrical problems.
Hilary loved music, especially Polish songs he learned as a child. He had a good voice, natural musical talent, and played the accordion by ear. He and Phyllis shared a love of music and nurtured this in their children. He enjoyed fishing, especially ice fishing and trips to Rice Lake in Canada in the summer. For many years, Hilary had a vegetable garden and his annual tomato crop was a standout. He also was fortunate to travel to Poland and Germany, even visiting the farm that he labored on as a teenager during the war. He and Phyllis traveled widely in Europe and in the United States, visiting their children wherever they happened to live at the time.
A Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, at Brown Funeral Home, 521 E. Main St. Niles, Michigan.
Hilary’s funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., on Tuesday, Dec.13, 2022, at Brown Funeral Home, 521 East Main St., Niles, Michigan. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Dowagiac. The service also will be live streamed from Brown Funeral Home’s website.
Condolences and memories may be shared with Hilary’s family at www.BrownFuneralHomeNiles.com. Or sent directly to the funeral home.
The family has designated Samaritas for memorial donations. Samaritas is one of the largest providers of refugee services, resettling families from all over the world. They also provide services such as foster care, adoption, substance recovery, senior care and living communities.