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Pajerski, long-active community leader, dies at 91

[1/30/04]Frank J. Pajerski, aide to World War II Gen. George Patton and respected insurance executive in Vicksburg, died Thursday, Jan. 29, 2004, at the River Region Medical Center West Campus. He was 91.

“He was a good husband and a good father and was proud of his service to his country and to his community,” said Frank J. Pajerski Jr., one of two sons who survive him.

Mr. Pajerski was a native of St. Paul, Minn., and was educated in Iowa and Illinois. He came to Vicksburg in 1934 and worked at the federal Waterways Experiment Station, which had been created after the Flood of 1927.

When what was to become Company B 106th Combat Engineer Brigade of the 31st “Dixie” Division formed in 1934, he was one of the original members, joining as a private. He rose in rank to become a noncommissioned officer and later became a second lieutenant.

“There were only three left” of the original members of Company B before Mr. Pajerski’s death, said Ed Clark Jr., a longtime friend and fellow member of Company B. The last two charter members surviving are Trellis Green and Vincent Bonelli.

“We will miss him,” Clark said. His sons “lost a good father, and I lost a good friend,” he added.

Richard Jacobson, another former member of Company B, said, “Frank Pajerski was one fine gentleman who was very considerate of everybody he ever met.”

The company was activated in 1940 and sent to Camp Blanding, Fla., for what was to have been a year’s active duty. Pearl Harbor changed that, and members of the unit were broken up. Mr. Pajerski was sent to Europe and ended up serving on the headquarters staff of Patton’s 3rd Army as an air intelligence officer. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and earned five combat medals and the Bronze Star.

Back in civilian life, Mr. Pajerski in 1948 became a representative of the Mutual of New York Life Insurance Co.

“I bought my first life insurance policy from him,” Clark said, voicing a claim that could be made by many residents.

Gene Allen knew Pajerski for many years. “He was the type of fellow who genuinely enjoyed being with his friends,” Allen said. “I hate to lose a man who has meant so much to this community,” Allen said.

Mr. Pajerski was the first campaign director for both the Mother’s March against Polio and what has become the United Way of West Central Mississippi. He also served as president of the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club.

He was a member of First Baptist Church for more than 50 years.

Mr. Pajerski and his wife, artist Elizabeth Mitchell Pajerski, traveled in North America, Europe, Asia and Central and South America, after his retirement. She died 11 months ago.

Mr. Pajerski was also preceded in death by two brothers, Walter and Joseph.

In addition to Frank Jr. of Fair Oaks, Calif., he is survived by Fred Pajerski of New York; a sister, Victoria Davis of Naples, Fla.; and a grandson, Mark Pajerski.

Services will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Fisher Funeral Home with Dr. John G. McCall, former pastor of First Baptist Church, officiating. Burial will be at Cedar Hill Cemetery. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

Pallbearers will be Gene Allen, Ed Clark Jr., Jesse Davenport, David Ellis, Ray English, Kirk Fordice, Joe Gerache, Tom Hill, Grady Leese, Junior Tew and D.P. Waring Jr. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Company B 106th Combat Engineers.

Memorials may be made to the Baptist Children’s Village, P.O. Box 27, Clinton, MS 39060.