Nicholas Zinni, 89, of Batavia died Wednesday (November 23, 2011) at United Memorial Medical Center after a lengthy illness.
He was born in Batavia on August 25, 1922, a son of the late Frank and Grace Niccolino Zinni.
Mr. Zinni was a prominent attorney in Batavia as well as the Genesee County area. He retired from practice in the last several years.
He was a life long member of St. Anthony’s Church and graduated from Batavia High School in 1940. He was a well known football and baseball player on the high school teams. In the 1940s he played semi-pro football with the “Batavia Essos” and went to North Carolina to play baseball with the Batavia Clippers Team.
From May 13, 1942 through August 22, 1946, he served with the US Army Air Force, having achieved the rank of Captain. He was a fighter pilot, flying P-38s in the Asiatic/Pacific Theatre. He served in the Philippines, New Guinea and Australia. His Battle Campaigns included 170 combat missions in P-38s over Bismarck Archipelago, Philippines, New Guinea, Luzon and South Western Pacific. Nick was the P-38 pilot who confirmed the 27th aircraft shot down by Richard Bong, American United States Air Force of WWII, in which (Bong) broke the WWI record (26) of Eddie Rickenbacker. He also flew numerous other fighter aircraft including P-51s and P-47s.
His awards included the Air Medal with 6 oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation Medal, Philippine Liberates Medal, Asiatic/Pacific Service Medal and the WWII Service Medal. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for participating in a P-38 squadron nighttime attack of December 26, 1944 against a Japanese convoy that was shelling American positions and airbase Mindoro Island, Philippines. The U.S. lost 25 out of 75 planes that engaged in that mission.
He was medically discharged from the Air Force with the rank of Captain, having had a service connected malignancy which later resulted in the amputation of his right arm and shoulder.
Nicholas Zinni attended and graduated from the University of Buffalo College/Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar on November 14, 1951.
Early in his law career, he served as the City of Batavia Police Attorney (2 years), and thereafter was in private practice. He was greatly assisted by his wife (Regina Pultorak Zinni) as legal assistant/secretary until her passing in 1997.
His organization memberships include the Vaness/Strollo Post 1602 VFW 1602 (Commander), Glenn S. Loomis Post 332 American Legion, Lawyer’s Pilot’s Bar Assoc., (Charter Member), Genesee County Bar Assoc. and the Genesee County Pilot’s Assoc. He served on the Genesee County Airport Advisory Committee and served as a “Labor Council Attorney” in the 1960s representing numerous injured workers in handling “Workers’ Compensation” claims.
From the 1950s onward (when Batavia Airport was a grass strip with a few small T-hangers), Nicholas Zinni was an active pilot, having owned and flown 5 different airplanes over his career and was a well known figure in local aviation. He was one of the organizers (along with others) of the Genesee County Pilots Association that was organized to boost aviation in Genesee County. When active as a pilot, he was generous in giving many local children and their parents their first airplane rides.
In later years, he loved and supported his pets and wildlife.
Surviving is a daughter, Christine Zinni of Batavia, son and daughter in law, Frank V. and Barbara Zinni of Batavia; step grand daughter, Agnieszka Olszewska of Poland; sister, Sister Mary Agnes Zinni of Texas; niece, Rose Ann Steele of VA, nephew Thomas Rinaldo of FL; cousins, Samuel Martino and family of Batavia, the Zinni family in Vasto, Italy and many cousins.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Regina Pultorak Zinni, daughter Theresa Zinni Harrison and sisters, Carrie Zinni and Nicolette Rinaldo.
Visitation will be Sunday from 4 – 8 PM at the J. LEONARD MCANDREW FUNERAL HOME, LLC, 2 BOGUE AVE., BATAVIA, where prayers will be Monday at 9:15 AM followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10AM at Ascension Parish (St. Anthony’s site). Entombment with full military honors will be at the Msgr. Francis Swartz Mausoleum.
The Ascension Rosary Society will gather at the funeral home on Sunday at 3:30PM to recite the Rosary.
Those desiring may make memorial contributions to the Theresa Zinni Harrison Nursing Scholarship Fund at Genesee Community College or the VFW Post 1602 or American Legion Post 332.
Expressions of condolence may be made at: www.mcandrewfuneralhomes.net.
Arrangements were entrusted to the J. LEONARD MCANDREW FUNERAL HOME, LLC, 2 BOGUE AVE., BATAVIA, NY. RONALD P. KONIECZNY II, DIRECTOR & PROPRIETOR.