Robert H. Zager

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Robert H. Zager

August 31, 2018

Robert H. Zager Gloucester, MA - Robert H. Zager, 92, husband of Irene (McCollum) Zager, passed away peacefully at home on August 31, 2018, surrounded by his loving family.
Robert was a lifelong resident of Gloucester. He was part of a large family of seven children. His mother, Ruth (Garvey) Zager was a school teacher. His father, Joseph, came to Gloucester from Michigan to fish on a gill netter, then joined the Gloucester Fire Department. When Robert was 13, he lost his father in the line of duty.
Robert graduated Gloucester High School in 1944, a member of the first four year class to graduate from the new school. He played varsity football and basketball and met and dated his future wife, Irene. This was a time of war, however, and 2 days after graduation he was sent to Camp Wheeler to start his infantry training followed by additional training at Fort Jackson after which he was shipped out on the Queen Elizabeth to Europe.
He fought with the Thunderbolts of the 83rd division of the 331st infantry and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star after being wounded in battle. In 13 days the 83rd division swept 215 miles through the heart of Germany reaching the Elbe River, 65 miles southwest of Berlin. The unprecedented drive by an infantry division made history. US newspaper stories spoke of the rag tag traveling circus that rode and fought over 200 miles in 10 days keeping up with the best armored divisions. The 83rd held their ground and two weeks later the Russians took Berlin and Robert was sent to Austria where he was put in charge of running “Reichover Lager” a camp which held 6,000 concentration camp refugees. They provided medical care and helped reunite survivors with their loved ones.
After returning home to Gloucester, Robert followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a career firefighter, retiring in 1984 as Deputy Chief.
Robert is survived by his wife Irene, his daughters Karen Zager, Marla Polizzia, and Janine Canillas, his grandchildren, Robert Curcuru and his wife Josie, David Curcuru and his wife Lacey, Erin Polizzia, Stacey Polizzia, Jaclyn Canillas, Daniel Canillas , as well as 4 great-grandchildren, Oliva Beth Curcuru, Gavin Curcuru, Fiona Lisa Curcuru and Anthony Trupiano. He is also survived by his brother Donald Zager and his wife Joan as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his siblings, J Philip Zager and his wife Sadie, Barbara Zager, Priscilla Zager, Ruth Cook, and Frances Bradley and her husband William. He was also predeceased by his beloved granddaughter Lisa Beth Curcuru.
In keeping with Robert's wishes, there will be no services at this time. A memorial service will be held at the Elks in Gloucester on October 20 at 11 a.m. Friends and family are cordially invited to celebrate his life.
Published on September 6, 2018
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