Cover photo for Harry William Zirkelbach, Jr.'s Obituary
Harry William Zirkelbach, Jr. Profile Photo

Harry William Zirkelbach, Jr.

February 17, 1922 — February 20, 2024

Boulder, Colorado

Harry William Zirkelbach, Jr.

Harry W Zirkelbach Jr was born February 17, 1922. He was 102 years old when he gently passed away on February 20, 2024. He had one sister, Patricia (“Patsy”) Zirkelbach Goetz, that preceded him in death. Harry (“Junior”) and Patsy were born in Freedom, Pennsylvania of the late Harry Charles (Harry C) and Josephine Hernon Zirkelbach. Harry was also preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Foley Zirkelbach, with whom he shared 72 years of marriage, and had nine children. Patsy also had 9 children.  

 

It’s difficult to think about Harry without mentioning his own father and his father’s father’s journeys. Harry's grandfather, Alois, married Catherine Hunter (1866-1936) in Bavaria Germany and then came to America. Alois felt it was cheaper to move than pay rent. This constant moving kept Harry C from getting beyond a 5th grade education and that’s when his father left the family.  The story goes that Alois went to work and never returned. Another story told was that Alois went back to Germany and was never heard from again. Harry C, age 15, became the sole breadwinner for his family, mother, and sisters Florence (1891-1969), Winifred (about 1902-1958), Berta (1899-1987), and Ruth (1907-1974).   Harry C started with odd jobs but eventually was hired by a railroad company. 

 

During the late 1920s, Harry C left the railroad company and started a white collar job to work for a life insurance company. It was an upgrade from the dirty, risky rails. Unfortunately, the great recession hit and being most recently hired, Harry C was let go.  To bring meat to the table, Harry C and Junior would hunt small game like bunnies in the local woods. On occasion, they would come upon abandoned farms. The depression hit many hard, and it was terrible to see these homes where families walked away leaving almost everything behind.  


In the 1930s, the family moved from Marion, PA to Erie, PA to follow a strong job prospect for Harry C. This move happened very suddenly. Junior recalled that “one day he went to school, came home, the house and car were packed, and they drove off“ to Erie, PA.  Neither he nor Patsy were able to say goodbye to their friends. 

 

While in Erie, Harry graduated from Cathedral Prep High School in 1940. When he graduated, he didn’t meet the minimum weight requirements to join the military. (Note: If you meet Amy’s son Zack, you will see Harry’s build, very, very slim). He was given a deferment and went to college for an engineering degree at the University of Detroit. Once he graduated (May 1944), he was able to join the military, however, the war was nearing an end. The US government didn’t want GIs all coming home at the same time, so they developed a point system for returning to the states. If you had a desk job, low risk job, points were low and you stayed longer. If you were in a high-risk position, like active combat, points were high and you returned quicker. Not wanting to spend much time serving, Harry picked a high-risk position in the Navy as a bomb ordinance and mine disposal officer (he ultimately retired from the Naval Reserves as a Captain). He learned to snorkel in the Potomac River, and scuba diving in a nearby pool.  He was sent to Japan in 1945 where he dismantled American and Japanese bombs. He said the Japanese bombs were much more dangerous to dismantle. He also trained locals and hired them to assist. After training them, he wasn’t in the water much. Primarily he focused on detonating bombs that washed up on shore. This would involve creating a shelter and blowing them up from afar. While in Japan, he met lifelong friend, Harry Schnibbe.  

  

Once out of the service, the two Harrys wanted to start a radio station in Denver. Somehow, Barbara’s brother Buddy met the two Harrys and brought them home for a home cooked meal.  As the story goes, there was no dinner but Buddy was quite the matchmaker; the Harry’s married sisters Betsy and Barbara Foley. 


They applied for an FCC license to start a radio station, but the FCC denied saying, “TV is taking over, and radio stations will soon be phased out”.  After the radio dream ended, Harry joined the Denver Police Department (DPD).   Not long after Barbara said,” I want you to come home every night”; so Harry left the DPD. He then started in sales and had several jobs that took him around the western slope where he sold products in every mountain town from Evergreen to Grand Junction.  

 

Harry was an active volunteer in many organizations. He was a longtime volunteer with St Vincent de Paul, where he collected and distributed clothing and money to the less fortunate. He was also a 10+ year member of the Serra Club, a catholic organization that supports the religious on their journey to becoming priests, nuns and brothers. After retirement, Harry worked on the census. He understood the importance of everyone being counted to ensure we stay “government by the people for the people”.  

 

For enjoyment, he and Barbara would walk to Congress Park during summer weekends to play tennis.  They also played bridge for over 50 years and hosted some wild parties.They were life-long St Johns, Good Shepherd members. Harry loved good jokes. You could just say the punchline and Harry would laugh.  


Dad was an avid reader.  Story goes, as Mom was in labor, Dad would read to keep them both calm.  We guessed he had the longest subscription to The New Yorker anyone west of the Mississippi.  We received both The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News and Dad would read cover to cover every day.   We thought it was a cruel twist of faith for Dad to get macular degeneration and lose his eye site.  But Mom and Dad were a team.  At the end of Mom’s life, she couldn’t hear well, and was losing her memory, but she would open the newspaper and read to Dad.  They were a team.

 

Even though they lived states apart, Harry and his sister Pasty were close throughout their lives.   They were pen-pals, letter writers, keeping each other abreast of goings on in their lives. Harry’s sister’s family (the Goetzes)  and Harry’s family remained close, including Kathryn McKeown (John) of Mt. Joy, PA, Sr. Janet Goetz OSB of Erie, Ilsie (Barbara) Daas of Denver, CO, Mary Margaret Seay (J. William) of Spring Mills, PA, and Joanne Bauer (John) of Portland, OR; her sons, William Goetz (Pam) of North East, PA, Christopher Goetz (Carol) of Merritt Island, FL, Thomas Goetz (Kathryn) of Hollidaysburg, PA, and Brian Goetz (Carla) of Greensburg, PA; 13 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.  


Of Harry’s nine children, he is survived by 7, including David, (Sharon) children, Stetson Zirkelbach, Ellen (Colby) Jarrett, Nathan (Emily) Zirkelbach, Wendi (Ryan) Womack, Erica Lamm (Rob St. Marie); daughter Grace Zirkelbach (David Nichols)- children Amanda (Zak) Podmore and Milena (Greg) Kothe; daughter Josephine Zirkelbach- children Geoff (Amica) Budzius and Emily (Jayson) Villagrana; daughter Amy (Mike) Stevens– children Philip (Danielle) Stevens, Paris (Matthew) Prestridge, Zac (Annika) and Jay Stevens; daughter Julie Kamrath (Anke), children Christopher (Daphne) Ward, Annastasia and Nicholas Von Tilius, Isabella Kamrath; son Albert Zirkelbach and daughter Treesa Zirkelbach.  Harry has 19 great-grandchildren. Harry is preceded in death by two sons, Paul and Thomas, sister Patricia Zirkelbach Goetz and her husband Harold.  


In lieu of flowers, VOTE. If you’re not registered, please register at Colorado Secretary of State - (coloradosos.gov). Then go find a cause you feel passionate about such as anthropogenic climate change, reducing gun violence, women’s rights, good paying jobs, lower taxes, keeping ACA, protecting social security; vote to protect your interests. 

Rosary will be held Thursday, April 4, at 6:00 at Heflebower Funeral & Cremation Services , which is located at 8955 Ridgeline Blvd Ste 100, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129 

Catholic burial mass will be held at Good Shepherd, Friday April 5 at 10:00.  There is no reception planned and the family is having a private service at Ft Logan.   

Past Services

Rosary

Thursday, April 4, 2024

6:00 - 7:00 pm (Mountain time)

Heflebower Funeral & Cremation Services

8955 S Ridgeline Blvd, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

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Mass

Friday, April 5, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)

Good Shepherd Catholic Church

2626 E 7th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80206

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