Robert J. Zajac


Slingerlands – Bob Zajac passed away suddenly and peacefully, his family at his side, at Albany Medical Center on May 28, 2022 after a brief battle with very rapid onset pneumonia. He was born in Syracuse, NY on June 4, 1947, the son of the late Joseph J. Zajac, Jr. and Helen Palladino Zajac. He grew up in Solvay, NY and graduated from Potsdam University with a B.A. in Psychology. At Potsdam, he was a proud member of Sigma Tau Psi fraternity where he met many men who became lifetime friends. He earned his M.A. in Early Childhood and Special Education at Russell Sage College.
Bob worked as a Special Education Teacher at BOCES and Tryon School for Boys in Johnstown, NY. He became the first Executive Director for Liberty ARC in Amsterdam, NY. Bob was a talented ball player and loved playing basketball and softball during his days in Johnstown and Amsterdam; he was always ready for a pickup game. He also played as a receiver for the Colonials, a semi-pro football team in the Capital Region. Bob would get together at least annually with his former basketball and softball friends to relive the good times. It was often said, “the older we get, the better we were!”
In 1973, Bob began his 22-year career with NYS Education Department as a Rehabilitation Facilities Specialist, reporting to work at One Commerce Plaza, Albany. He had a satellite office at Lexington ARC in Johnstown, adjacent to the backyard of his new Gloversville home. In 1984, while monitoring facilities in the Adirondacks, Bob met Nancy E. Cannon (Nan). Bob taught Nan to fly fish and they spent many happy hours streamside. Bob decided Nan was “a keeper” and they were married September 19, 1987 at the Christ Episcopal Church in Cooperstown, NY. The reception took place on the shores of Otsego Lake. Bob and Nan were planning to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this September.
Bob was an athlete and an avid sportsman his entire life. He trapped, hunted, fished and played golf. He thoroughly enjoyed hunting in the Adirondacks and was a member of camps at Cook Brook, Fox Hill and Lake Desolation.
Bob was a passionate fly fisherman and fly tier. He fished small and large trout streams and was a fixture on the Delaware River when the March Browns were hatching. He traveled to the Gaspé Peninsula to fish the rivers of Quebec for Atlantic salmon. He loved the people and the culture and when he was in these often-remote rivers, he was in heaven on earth. Bob made friends wherever he went and kept them for a lifetime.
Every summer for 20+ years, the family traveled to Martha’s Vineyard where Bob and Nan fished for striped bass off the beaches after sunset. Bob was always trying to perfect the ideal sand eel pattern and would fish all night so he could experience the early morning blitz of stripers as the sun came up. Nan accompanied Bob on his many forays into fields and streams, hunted and fished by his side, and became his favored golf partner.
Bob was a mentor to many hopeful salmon anglers and energetically shared his love and expertise for the sport. He had an unending sense of humor, delivering irreverent jokes and engaging stories in a voice befitting an FM radio host. His indoor avocation, aside from fly-tying, was writing mood, humor and technical pieces. He published two dozen articles over the years in the international magazines Atlantic Salmon Journal and Eastern Woods and Waters. He contributed chapters on hunting and fishing for six books published by Northeast Sportsman’s Press and Stackpole Books, always deferring to his wife for review and editing.
Bob is survived by his wife Nancy E. Cannon, and their children Charles Alexander Zajac and Valerie Aniela Zajac; his sons by his first wife Judith Markulus, Mark Allen Zajac and David Christopher Zajac (Aubrey); his sister Barbara Pagano (John); his brother Joseph J. Zajac III (Eugenia Dean); many nieces, nephews and 2 grandchildren.
Bob will be cremated and buried in Cooperstown at a private family graveside service later this summer. Bob’s sister-in-law, Rev. Eugenia Dean, will officiate. Ashes will also be scattered near his four favorite spots in: the Adirondacks, Gaspé, the Delaware River and Martha’s Vineyard. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations made in Bob’s honor to the Guilderland Emergency Medical Services, 200 Centre Drive, Albany, NY 12203.
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By LH Staff

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