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Alfred Marvin Zien had his heart stop in an ambulance on the way to Luther Hospital from Oakwood Villa/Altoona on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2020.

He was born on Dec. 19, 1935 at the home farm to Albert and Ella (Mau) Zien. Alfred contracted romantic fever at age 3. He persevered lifelong multiple medical and physical challenges.

Living at Zastrows, Gilman, Fall Creek and Oakwood Villa Nursing Homes — he was well liked by staff and residents. Fortunately family members also cared for him, including Jane Toro and Rebecca Klingbeil. The past four years at Oakwood Villa were challenging and rewarding — especially with Paul, Leah, Joey and the total staff.

In past decades the Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, congestive heart and respiratory hurdles never deterred his cheerfulness. Just five days before his passing, he was diagnosed with the Chinese coronavirus. No symptoms until his last few hours.

Father Albert was a machine gunner on the front lines in French trench warfare, including serious exposure to mustard gas. He served with 2,350 fellow Chippewa County veterans, who mostly joined the famed U.S. Army 32nd Division.

Among the 160-plus WWI vets just from Cadott were Harry and Otto Arneson; Lawrence Bourget; Edward G. Burish; John Couey; Lawrence Dugal; Adelbert Green; Harold Gundmanson; Roy Holtz (Chippewa Falls); Martin, James and Thomas Irwin; Morris Mickelson; George Pfaff; James Rykal; and Henry Wenzel. The DNA in their descendants survive strong in this region — especially today.

Highway 29 is WWI Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Highway, named in honor of 122,000-plus WWI veterans and their families. Especially proud are neighbors in Clark, Eau Claire, Rusk and Taylor counties.

Alfred is survived by second cousins Dale, Dave, Debra (Millar) and Jerry Zien, as well as 11 third cousins and 13 fourth cousins.

He was preceded in passing by Dad, Albert; Mom, Ella; and sister, Vernice; and first cousins, Allen, Carl, Catherine, Genevieve, Harold, LaVerne and Raymond Zien.

Alfred’s grandfather’s Lutheran-type family came to America in 1880s. The Catholics stayed in Germany. His great-uncle, a Colonel, was executed by Hitler in 1939 — apparently too conservative.

The hundreds of people that cared for or resided with Alfred over the years, describe him as simple and sweet. He was blessed with a Savant-type phenomena. Alfred demonstrated that though physically and mentally challenged, one can demonstrate “everyone teaches-everyone learns!” Often those unassuming and unexpected are the teachers. Appreciating everyone with a smile and laughing, Alfred loved Santa Claus and celebrated the Christmas multi-dimensional spirit year round. Favorite song was “You are my sunshine.” He looked forward to bingo, meal time and recreational gatherings. Alfred stood vigil at the door, acknowledging visitors to the facility. Loving the Lord was obviously reciprocal.

Perhaps the message conveyed by people like Alfred who are either confined to long-care facilities, homebound, self quarantined — is that they deserve to be celebrated by phone call, card or letter.

They/we all deserve to celebrate the Christmas spirit year around. Battlefield/deathbed religion, bucket lists, last hurrahs — time is too short to not say thank you’s and apologies. Enduring everlasting prayers with constructive guidance is deservingly reciprocal.

When riding motorcycle with cousin Dave, Alfred would hold both hands high, honoring the Harley Hallelujah. When asked why he was reluctant to put his hands down at high speeds and around curves, Alfred would say, “Alfred is trying to catch that wind!” Most certainly Alfred is now “catching That Wind while celebrating Heaven’s Majestic Jubilance!”

A Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 at the Leiser Funeral Home in Cadott with Rev. George Olinske officiating. Inurnment will be in the Brooklawn Cemetery, Cadott at a later date.

A visitation will be one hour prior to the services Thursday at the funeral home.

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