Joseph Leonard Zinker, 86, of Manchester, formerly of Ellington and Tolland, beloved husband of Thelma (Beals) Zinker, passed away peacefully on Monday, January 25, 2021, in the loving presence of family.
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Joe was born March 30, 1934 in Ellington, the son of the late Joseph and Mary (Gessay) Zinker. He attended Rockville High School, where he was inducted into the National Honor Society, and graduated in 1952. Joe had an impressive early career at CL&P, while he studied electrical engineering at the University of Hartford. He started at CL&P as a lineman right out of high school, and by 1960 he had worked his way up to electrical planning for commercial customers and designing street lighting. Joe’s natural leadership skills quickly shone through after being drafted into the Army, where he graduated number one in his class for tank mechanics and was given the highly coveted instructor position. In 1967, Joe graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, where he was consistently on the Dean’s List. In 1991, Joe retired from a long career at Travelers Insurance as the Director of Systems, where he was dearly loved by the organization he led. While at Travelers, Joe was a dedicated member of the bowling league and thoroughly enjoyed networking out on the golf course.
Joe was an avid and talented horseman and lit up when he told his many horse stories accompanied by old photographs. Some of our favorite stories are those about his boyhood pinto horse Janey whom he rode to deliver his local paper route in the 1940’s, and his 1964 world champion reining stallion named Mike Echols. He never outgrew his farm boy roots, was always up early on the weekends caring for the horses before his morning coffee, getting endless enjoyment tinkering around the farm fixing anything that wasn’t working quite right, and meticulously tending to the landscaping around the family home.
Joe had a contagious heartfelt laugh and laughed often, and his beautiful broad smile lit up a room. Even after a severe stroke in 1991 left him without speech, blind in his left eye, and paralyzed on his right side, he maintained a kind and jolly demeanor, and an unselfish and unwavering dedication to those he loved.
Besides his loving wife, Thelma, he is survived by his daughter, Jennifer (Zinker) Solich and her husband Jared of Red Lion, PA; his four step children and their spouses, Susan and David Greenwald of Wrentham, MA, Steven and Cathy Ouellette of Ashford, Sandra and Michael DiMaio of South Windsor, and Jennifer and Scott Savoie of Tolland; his sister, Margaret Wendus of FL; and his grandchildren, James Joseph Solich, Abigail Ouellette, Olivia and Alexis DiMaio, and Avery, Cadee and Lindsey Savoie. He was predeceased by three of his siblings, Walter Zinker, Eleanor German, and Elizabeth Machnik. Burial will be private at the convenience of the family. For online condolences please visit: www.pietrasfuneralhome.com