on July 12, 2013 - 10:18 PM
Nov. 3, 1922 – July 3, 2013
Dr. Eugene J. Zygaj, an area physician who delivered an estimated 3,000 babies during his 36-year career as an obstetrician and gynecologist, died July 3 in Harris Hill Nursing Facility, Lancaster. He was 90.
Born in Buffalo, Dr. Zygaj received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Buffalo in 1940. He went on to study medicine at the UB School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, graduating in 1950.
To help pay for his studies, he worked with a team of chemists at Linde Air Products Co. in the Town of Tonawanda to recover residual uranium from leftover ore used in the Manhattan Project.
After graduating from medical school, Dr. Zygaj served in the Korean War as a medic, treating wounded troops as part of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH, unit.
Dr. Zygaj practiced medicine at four area hospitals during his career: Deaconess Hospital in Buffalo, St. Joseph Hospital in Cheektowaga, Millard Fillmore Hospital and Women & Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Zygaj played a major role in the founding of St. Joseph Hospital and served as president of its medical staff. He was also an active member of the Erie County Medical Society and Medical Art Society.
He retired in 1986 to spend more time with his family, which grew to include four children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Dr. Zygaj’s areas of expertise extended beyond the hospital setting. He was an accomplished carpenter, plumber and electrician, and used those skills to build his retirement home in Lancaster with the help of his son and son-in-law.
Dr. Zygaj also had a lifelong love of softball. He enjoyed playing the sport, even into his 80s, and was an umpire for a recreational girls softball league in Lancaster.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gertrude; three sons, Lawrence, John and Edward; a daughter, Margaret Winiewicz; and two sisters, Jane Mytko and Irene.
Funeral services were Monday.