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Paul Carl Zakel, Jr.
February 1919 May 2010
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Paul C. Zakel, 91, passed away on May 1. He was born Feb. 23, 1919 in Los Molinos. He was the youngest child of Paul and Margaret Zakel. He had three sisters and two brothers. Even before he was a teenager, he was working at various farm and ranch jobs to help his mother support the family as his father left to pursue work ventures in other parts of the state.  At about age 12, he went to live with his sister and brother-in-law in Alameda. He stayed there long enough to graduate from grade school.  He returned to Los Molinos and stayed until graduation at Los Molinos High School, having lettered in baseball, basketball and football; he loved sports and was an exceptional baseball player.
After graduation Paul went to work in Stockton. He worked as a welder at Valley Steel and Welding Works, which his father owned. At that time, he also played baseball on a minor league team and had a very respectable batting average.
In about 1940, he then went to work welding at Mare Island Naval Base, and after Dec. 7, 1941, he transferred to Pearl Harbor where he worked on many of the ships damaged in the attack there. While there he also attended the University of Hawaii before returning to Stockton and entering the service.  He shipped to Europe in September 1944 and became an infantryman in the 80th Division in France. He quickly advanced in rank and became a squad leader. He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, but stayed in combat for the length of the war. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. At war’s end he was selected to be Sergeant of the Guard for the American contingent at the Nuremberg trials, where he stayed until January 1946.
Once home he married the love of his life, Alvina Bitterman, and started a family. He became partners with his brother-in-law, Russell Bales, and they formed Bales and Zakel Plumbing in Oakdale. Paul’s sister Virginia Bales ran the office. Paul was a volunteer fireman for the Oakdale Fire Department for 20 years. He retired from the plumbing business in 1984, but never really retired. He grew up working and he never let that go.
He was quick to help anyone that he could, was truly generous to a fault. Being a member of “The Greatest Generation” he gave his blood and sweat for his country and his family. His greatest love was his family , he was there any time anyone needed  help of any kind; he was the driving force behind all the family functions and he was happiest when all the family  was together.
He is survived by sons, Paul Zakel III (Patty) and Stephen Zakel (Loretta), both of Escalon; stepson, Byron Laurence (Lee) of Carmichael; five grandchildren; and one great- granddaughter.
On May 1, 2006, tragedy struck Paul when his beloved wife of 60 years, Alvina, passed away after a short illness. In addition, he was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters.
There will be no services at this time; a private memorial is planned later. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Cancer Society.
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