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Obituary: Kazimer Nawojchik

Retired Deputy Chief of Department, FDNY

Kazimer Nawojchik died peacefully at home surrounded by his family in Port Washington, on Saturday evening, April 9, 2011. He was born in 1923 in Brooklyn and graduated from Jefferson High School. He attended Queens College and Delahanty Institute with the goal of becoming a fireman.

Hearing the call to join the fighting forces in WWII, and after reading All Quiet on the Western Front, “Kaz” decided he never wanted to fight in the trenches. Always an avid swimmer and loving the sea, Kaz and a friend went off together to sign up for the Navy. But finding the Navy enlistment line too long, the pair headed to the Coast Guard recruitment booth, and Kaz trained for the LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) service, earning the rank of Seaman First Class. While waiting to be “called up,” he took a job as a propeller welder for the Curtis Wright Aircraft Company.

He always believed he had a guardian angel looking out for him. One of the first instances he would talk about was after his LCVP skipper training. On the weekend before he was due to report for duty, Kaz got a chill at Radio City Music Hall, and ended up spending D-Day at the Staten Island Naval Hospital being treated for double pneumonia. The casualty rate for men piloting the landing craft on D-Day was said to approach 100 percent.

After his discharge, Kaz returned to his long-term interest and joined the New York City Fire Department, studying for each exam and rising through the ranks.

Next to swimming, his second love was skiing, which he enjoyed at every opportunity, taking long ski vacations in Aspen, Colorado, and Stowe, Vermont. In pursuit of these interests, he joined the Cresthaven Club in Whitestone, where he met his future wife, Anne Marie Rettig, at a ski club meeting. They married in 1959 and lived in Bayside for 10 years. In 1969 and four children later, the young family moved to Flower Hill, Manhasset, where they lived on Northwoods Road for 40 years.

Both Anne and Kaz loved their community and their parish, St. Mary’s, where Kaz served as a Eucharistic Minister for 25 years, and in Flower Hill was chairman of the planning board for 10 years.

Kaz is survived by his wife Anne (Butcher); four children - John, Maryanne, Jamie and Nancy; and eight grandchildren.

Arrangements made by Fairchild & Sons, Manhasset. The Funeral Mass is on Friday, April 15, at St. Mary’s, Manhasset. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity of your choice.