Michael Andrew Zemanek

Michael Zemanek

— Photo from Ray Ginter

A Vermont deputy sheriff raised in Voorheesville, Michael Andrew Zemanek was a straight arrow — a hardworking young man remembered in his hometown for both his kindness and his energy.

He was a volunteer firefighter in the Voorheesville Fire Department and had been an Eagle Scout and, his family wrote in a tribute, he will always be remembered as a “Squared Away Hard Charger.”

He died on Thursday, Aug. 1, due to a catastrophic medical event while driving on Route 89 in Waterbury, Vt.  He was 22.

The wake in Barre on Tuesday night was “packed with people” said Fran Gorka, whose son, Noah, was a close friend of Mr. Zemanek.  “It was an outpouring from the community and indicative of who Mike was and how that community embraced him,” said Mrs. Gorka. Many of the mourners were in law enforcement, she said; Mr. Zamenek had worked as a deputy sheriff in Vermont’s Orange County.

Born on Dec. 6, 1990, in Stamford, Conn., he was the son of Mary Anne (née Pratte) Zemanek McGreevy and Glenn Zemanek. “He came from a wonderful family,” said Mrs. Gorka.

Ray Ginter, who knew Mr. Zemanek from the time he joined the Voorheesville Boy Scout troop at the age of 10 until he was 18, said, “If I had to sum Michael up in one word, that word would be ‘character.’ He made his character count with everything he did.”

Mr. Ginter recalled the young Mr. Zemanek’s first camp-out after fifth grade. “The kid back then was full of spirit and energy. He showed up with an old Army rucksack that looked about three times his size. He had the energy and determination to stay up with the big boys. Nothing slowed him down.”

The Scout troop, Mr. Ginter said, had always been “a boy-run organization.” Mr. Ginter went on, “Michael took a leadership position. He was one of my best senior patrol leaders that I could have ever had…He was honest; he was outgoing; he was friendly.”

Mrs. Gorka, too, spoke of his energy and passion. “He was a true athlete,” she said. “His passion was swimming but he was an amazing runner, too,” she said.

She recalled how her son would grab the car keys at 11 at night and say, “I’m going running.” She didn’t worry because he was with Mr. Zemanek. “He wasn’t a partier,” she said. “Noah and Mike would go running through the village.”

She went on, “In anticipation of going to Norwich University, he wanted to get in good shape.”

After graduating from Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville in 2008, Mr. Zemanek did, indeed, go on to excel at Norwich, in Northfield, Vt. In both high school and college, he captained the swimming and diving team. He was awarded the Norwich University Garrity Award for his achievement in academics and athletics.

He was a magna cum laude graduate from Norwich University, majoring in computer security and information assurance and was working on his master’s degree in the same discipline at the university.

His memberships included the Corps of Cadets at Norwich University, the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society for computing and information disciplines.

“He was really smart,” said Mrs. Gorka. “He had a variety of friends….He was just one of those unassuming, understated kids who was a friend to many.”

He worked at Hannaford supermarket while he was in high school, she said, and, despite his many achievements, “He wasn’t arrogant; he was just one of those likeable kids.

In May of this year, he graduated from the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford, Vt. and won the highest award for academic achievement.

In August of 2012, he became a deputy sheriff for the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Chelsea, Vt. He also was a part-time police officer in Northfield, Vt. and had been a part-time police officer in Barre City, Vt.

“Police work, community service, and swimming were very important to Michael,” his family wrote.

“He was earnest; he was genuine,” concluded Mrs. Gorka. “He had a fine character.”

“Everything Michael did, he gave it his all,” said Mr. Ginter. “He was the straightest of arrows.”

****

Michael Andrew Zemanek is survived by his beloved mother and stepfather, Mary Anne and Gerard McGreevy of Voorheesville; his brother, Daniel R. Zemanek, of Guilderland; his father, Warrant Officer Glenn Zemanek of the United States Army and his stepmother, Anastasia; his paternal grandparents, John and Connie Zemanek of Nutley, N.J.; numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins as well as his beloved godfather, Roderick Walters, of Port Chester, N.Y.; and two stepsisters, Jennifer Randall and her family of Castleton, N.Y. and Susan Koller and her family in Albany; and his special friends John Houle and Abby Prevost of Barre, Vt.

His maternal grandparents, Raymond and Helena Pratte, died before him.

His Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Wednesday morning, Aug. 7, at St. Monica Catholic Church in Barre, Vt., followed by the Service of Remembrance and Life Celebration in the White Chapel at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.

There will be a memorial service to be held at St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church in Voorheesville at the convenience of his family.

Arrangements are by the Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Home at 7 Academy Street in Barre, Vt.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Vermont Law Enforcement Memorial Fund in care of the Vermont Police Association, Post Office Box 467 Hardwick, VT 05643.
 

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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