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Robert A. Zaininger

April 9, 1946 November 26, 2019
Robert A. Zaininger
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Obituary for Robert A. Zaininger

Robert A. Zaininger, of Lake Holiday in Sandwich, Illinois, was born on April 9, 1946 and raised in Naperville. He was the age of 5 when he lost his father. His mother along with Robert and his two brothers were brought to Mooseheart the Child City, a residential child facility, owned and operated by the Fraternal Loyal Order of Moose. Robert’s mother moved her sons to Batavia when he was 7 only to return the Child City with his twin brother 5 years later when his mother died. Robert graduated from Mooseheart High School. He attended Lakeland College (now University) on a football scholarship; and during the summers and breaks, Robert lived with his guardians, his Uncle Bill (Naperville mayor from 1960-68) and Aunt Dorothy Zaininger. Robert distinguished himself in college, attaining many honors as a student and an athlete in football and wrestling. The 1967 Lakeland football team on which he played a starting offensive guard was recognized as the college’s best team in the college’s 50 year time period in 2017., and in 2016, Robert was inducted into Lakeland’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Robert met his future wife at Lakeland and graduated in 1969 with a B.S. in business administration. At graduation, the then assistant superintendent of Mooseheart asked Robert to return to Mooseheart High School to teach and be the assistant head football coach and head wrestling coach. In 1970. Robert married his college sweetheart, Gaye, and they made their home in Aurora. Robert passionately wanted to contribute to the Mooseheart students’ school/home/community experience at the Child City and with the approval of the Moose Fraternity, created programs where Mooseheart students participated in recreation and field trips tailored to their age groups from toddlers through high school. In addition to his teaching and coaching, in the mid-70’s, the Mooseheart Child City named Robert its first Recreation Director, a position he held through 1991. In 1978, Robert and his wife moved to the Mooseheart Child City where Robert’s duties in overseeing campus operations increased; and in 1981, when the then superintendent of Mooseheart died, Robert was appointed Acting Superintendent for several months and then Assistant Superintendent for the next 11 years. During those 11 years, he was in the educational administration program at N.I.U and the recreation program at Mooseheart grew. One of the highlights of his work with students and the fraternity was taking the senior high school students on 12 State Moose Organization sponsored trips through the United States. In 1992, he was recognized for his contributions to the Moose and was awarded the highest honor the fraternal organization has, the Pilgrim Degree of Merit. In 1994, Robert received his M.S. in Business Management from National Louis University. Also, during his passionately involved commitment to Mooseheart, Robert looked forward to vacation time with family- his wife and two children, Will and Kristy, when they took many trips across the United States in their motor home. The Mooseheart Alumni Organization awarded Robert its highest honor, Distinguished Mooseheart Alumni as well as inducting him into the Mooseheart Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2005, Robert retired from Moose International, having served as its first Curator of Fraternal History, being instrumental in organizing fraternal memorabilia in the Moose Museum on the Child City campus. In 2013, for the Child City’s Centennial Celebration, Robert co-authored a book documenting its chronically rich history of Mooseheart the Child City. Robert was a member of the now dissolved Naperville Moose Lodge. He became a lifetime member of the Sandwich Moose Lodge and is also a member of the Mooseheart Chapter. Robert enjoyed returning part time to the Moose Museum, continuing his work as Curator from 2006 through 2015, From 2005 to 2014, Robert was part of the Oswego District 308 transportation department where he thoroughly enjoyed driving students to school as well its teams to away games. A highlight of driving was the year when he drove young disabled students to school, carefully attending to their safety when riding in his care. Robert was a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Somonauk and was a 3rd Degree Knight of Columbus. In 2014, Robert’s 2010 cancer diagnosis resulted in brain metastases in 2014, which he and his team of doctors at Northwestern Memorial valiantly fought. Robert died very peacefully at home, surrounded by his family on November 26, 2019 from complications of Papillary Thyroid Cancer. He was the devoted husband of Gabrielle (Gaye Gasick), whom he married on March 21, 1970; the proud father of Will (Shannon) and Kristen; the doting grandfather of Kevin and Lily; the close brother of Henry (Sylvia) and twin brother of Richard (Lucie); and the devoted uncle of many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Henry and mother, Nancy.

For those who would like to leave a lasting tribute to Robert's life, the family would prefer memorials to the Northwestern Memorial Developmental Theraeutics Institute, The American Cancer Society, and Mooseheart the Child City.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, December 3, 3:00 until 8:00 PM at the Overman-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 44 S. Mill St., Naperville. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 4, 9:30 AM at SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 36 N. Ellsworth St., Naperville. Interment will follow at SS. Peter & Paul Cemetery, Naperville.

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Previous Events





3:00 PM 12/3/2019 3:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 12/3/2019 8:00:00 PM
Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home

44 S. Mill St.
Naperville, IL 60540

Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home
44 S. Mill St. Naperville 60540 IL
United States

Mass of Christian Burial




9:30 AM 12/4/2019 9:30:00 AM
SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church

36 N. Ellsworth Street
Naperville, IL 60540

SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church
36 N. Ellsworth Street Naperville 60540 IL
United States

Cemetery Details


SS. Peter & Paul Cemetery Final Resting Place

701 North Ave
Naperville, IL 60540

701 North Ave Naperville 60540 IL
United States

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