R.I.P. Tom Ziarko
Tom Ziarko, husband of Sterling Heights councilperson Barbara Ziarko, passed away June 12 after battling lung cancer.
I met Mr. Ziarko in the parking lot of Hatherly Elementary school this past November on Election Day. He was there in support of his wife’s re-election bid; I was there in support of Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Taylor’s effort. As the day wore on, we engaged in a lengthy conversation, and probably spent the better part of five or six hours talking over the course of the day.
As acquaintances go, Mr. Ziarko’s and mine was a short one, but even in a few short hours I knew he was someone I enjoyed being with. A longtime Chrysler employee, Mr. Ziarko shared in my passion for all things Mopar, and a good chunk of our time together was spent discussing that company’s recent history of being acquired and merged twice over the past couple of decades. We talked about the products, our ownership experiences, and people we both knew who were associated with the company. It was good conversation.
As people who read my writings here might recall, prior to the 2011 election I opined that Mrs. Ziarko might be replaced by better candidates, a recommendation I have later come to regret. As Mr. Ziarko was a reader of this blog, this came up in our conversation. It was a remarkable point in our talk for the grace and equanimity with which he treated the subject. Had I been in his position meeting someone who had written something like that concerning my own wife, I could scarcely hope to later handle it with such poise or kindness. I looked at Tom in that moment and told him he was a better man than I, and I sincerely meant it. It is rare for me to meet a person who so impresses me. It was perhaps the most gentle lesson in humility and respect I have ever had and one I will not soon forget.
I did not know Tom for years and I cannot claim we were friends, but I am saddened by his premature death; he is someone I surely would like to have had the opportunity to know better. I believe he was a good man, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to the entire Ziarko family on their loss.