Breaking News … Robert Zwolak, former city official dies

Robert Zwolak



By Charles Sercombe
As we went to press Thursday it was announced that Robert Zwolak, 79, who was elected to multiple positions in Hamtramck’s government, died Wednesday night (March 3).
Mr. Zwolak is a former city clerk, city councilmember and served on the City Charter Commission. That commission successfully produced the city’s current charter, which updated the city’s original charter that was decades old.
He was an outspoken critic of government officials, and a fierce watchdog on how taxpayers’ money was spent.
Mr. Zwolak was a regular attendee at city council meetings, often having a better attendance record than some elected officials.
He also at one time owned and operated a bicycle shop on Jos. Campau and published a feisty weekly newspaper called The Hamtramck Times.
Mr. Zwolak had been battling pancreatic cancer for the past 17 months and was in hospice at the time of his death.
There will be a memorial visitation in honor of Mr. Zwolak on March 19, 2-7 p.m., at Jurkiewicz & Wilk Funeral Home. March 19 would have been Mr. Zwolak’s 80th birthday.

Below is a proclamation issued by the mayor and city council:

City of Hamtramck

No matter what was going on in Hamtramck for the last 50 years, one thing has always been constant – Bob Zwolak. Bob is a fixture of Hamtramck life and politics. Whether functioning as a local business owner, City Clerk, or City Councilmember, Bob has been through it all and never stopped caring about Hamtramck. A long and varied career brings with it a wealth of institutional knowledge that simply cannot be replaced.

Bob grew up on Charest St., graduated from St. Florian High School, married up (to longtime School Board member Elizabeth Cybart) and raised five children who also became St. Florian alumni. Governor Milliken appointed him to the Hamtramck City Council in 1971, and he was officially on the ballot for the first time in 1972 – and so it began. Bob never stopped running for office, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, all the while operating small businesses like Hamtramck Motors, Hamtramck Cycle, and the Hamtramck Times newspaper.

One would try to apply the “knows where all the bodies are buried” cliché to Bob, but that would not be giving him enough credit. Bob not only knows where they are buried but will make a public case for who buried them, and why they should or shouldn’t have been buried there in the first place.

The City of Hamtramck and I want to thank Bob Zwolak for his tireless dedication to the City of Hamtramck, and for always staying involved. Bob will always be immortalized in the photo hanging outside of the Hamtramck City Council Chambers where he is standing with Mayor Kozaren, advocating for Hamtramck’s best interests to then President Jimmy Carter. Thank you, Bob, for always being a fighter, and for always holding Hamtramck in your heart.

Mayor Karen Majewski
Mayor Pro Tem Fadel Al-Marsoumi
Councilmembers Mohammed Hassan, Ian Perrotta, Mohammed Alsomiri, Saad Almasmari and Nayeem Choudhury

Posted March 4, 2021

Updated at 2:50 p.m.

12 Responses to Breaking News … Robert Zwolak, former city official dies

  1. Anon E. Moose

    March 4, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Nice tribute from the mayor and city council. Fade the well in the next leg of your journey, Bob.

  2. Betty Zwolak

    March 4, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful tribute to Bob. His love for Hamtramck never varied. Our children were with him throughout his illness. God bless him.

  3. Joe Ignaczak

    March 4, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    I was partners with Bob at Hamtramck Cycle and he always had good ideas and provided great customer service. He will be missed . . . Joe Ignaczak

  4. Jerry Dywasuk Jr.

    March 4, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    Also a reminder that it was not just local government that Bob was interested in. Cousin Bob was a candidate for US Congress in the 1972 primary. I remember passing out literature for him and remember that Betty used to paint some of his campaign signs by hand.

    He took his civic duty seriously.

  5. Lori Miazek

    March 5, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Many in our family resided in Hamtramck, but my cousin Bob had a great love for the city and remained and worked there. This is a fitting tribute to him. God bless you Bob.

  6. Amvets Post 14

    March 5, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    AMVETS Post 14 was deeply saddened to learn of Robert Zwolak’s passing. He was an active and Lifelong member of our Post dedicated to the service of fellow Veterans and the surrounding Community. Interestingly Mr. Zwolak served our Nation in the Air Force as a Navigator on B-52 Bombers. He later continued his career in public service, as a long term, and dedicated City Clerk and Councilman for the City of Hamtramck. Everyone at our Post was proud to have him as a member and better of for the many contributions he made to our Post

  7. Mark M Koroi

    March 6, 2021 at 4:44 am

    Bob Zwolak was one of the best historians of the City of Hamtramck. He served many years as City Clerk and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Hamtramck’s election system as well as the inner workings of City Hall.

    I referred to him as “Mr.TAB Board” as he was the only member of the public who attended every single meeting of the Receivership Transition Advisory Board.

    He ran as a Republican in 1972 for U.S. Congress and later ran as a Democrat for State Representative.

    He was City Clerk when a SWAT team raided the Immaculate Conception Church in Poletown. He knew Fr. Karaskiewicz, the pastor.

    He was critical of the conduct of a number of public officials and wished a grand jury would investigate city operations. The city has lost a valuable citizen.

  8. Felicia Davey

    March 6, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    God bless Bob Zwolak, a gentleman and a scholar who was also kind to strangers.
    May he rest in peace.

  9. Dan Finwall

    March 6, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    Bob was a very energetic and passionate guy and Hamtramck will miss him. On behalf of Cardinal Mercier K of C we send our condolences.

    Bob was always active and ready to step up and he will not be forgotten. Always opinionated and passionate, he was a very unique and valuable asset to everyone who knew him. He cared so much about Hamtramck and loved it.

  10. John Ulaj

    March 6, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    Bob Zwolak, was truly a great friend and a caring citizen not to mention , a fun and compassionate human being . May God rest his soul . He will be missed . . ❤️

  11. Larry Macks

    March 6, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for the memories, Bob.
    God Bless You and Your family. 🙏

  12. Pat Mandziuk

    March 10, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Rest in Peace Robert!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *