‘The market was his life’

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In the photo, Leo Zlaket is third from left. His wife Virginia is second from right.

BY LOREEN BERLIN: Zlaket’s Market was a fixture in Garden Grove for 88 years.

So was Leo Zlaket.

“He was such a decent and comfortable person to be around and the market was his life,” said Virginia Zlaket, his wife. “He was born in the St. Joseph Hospital in the City of Orange and lived with his parents upstairs above the market.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the photo, Leo Zlaket is third from left. His wife Virginia is second from right.

BY LOREEN BERLIN: Zlaket’s Market was a fixture in Garden Grove for 88 years.

So was Leo Zlaket.

“He was such a decent and comfortable person to be around and the market was his life,” said Virginia Zlaket, his wife. “He was born in the St. Joseph Hospital in the City of Orange and lived with his parents upstairs above the market.”

Virginia Zlaket said so many tributes have been given to her husband that he would have been humbled. Three hundred attended the full-military funeral services Aug. 6, at St. Columban Catholic Church in Garden Grove.

Zlaket’s Market on Historic Main Street in Garden Grove closed in 2015 after 88 years in business. Zlaket’s was a family business passed from father-to-son; it was the second oldest enterprise in Garden Grove when it shuttered.

Owner Leo Kalil Zlaket, II, died July 31 from multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer. He was 77.

Leo was a native Californian, attending local Catholic schools starting with the Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Westminster. He then graduated from Mater dei High School in Santa Ana in 1959.

After graduating from Fullerton College he became a partner at Zlaket’s Market, which his father established in 1927.

Leo served in the United States Army National Guard stateside from 1963 to 1969 and claimed his most dangerous assignment was “The Battle of Watts.”

In 1966, he met the love of his life, Virginia. They were married in 1967.

The newlyweds moved into the apartment above Zlaket’s Market until son David was born.  They found their new home in Anaheim two miles from Zlaket’s Market. No more rolling out of bed into the market to work, but also no freeway driving.

After Leo’s father died in 1988, brother George retired and Leo and Virginia became sole owners of the market

“Together, we worked hard to expand the deli, catering and gourmet food products while maintaining the quality meat department,” Virginia said.

Leo served as Chairman of the Board of the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce and was on dozens of other boards and commissions. He was named Garden Grove’s Man of the Year and rode on a float in the Strawberry Festival Parade.

Other awards include the Cypress College Americana Citizen of the Year, Chapman College Paskey’s Ethical Business Award, and Orange County Business Journal Small Business Award.

Leo’s quiet leadership endeared him to the community.

Many community organizations benefitted from his donations and helping hand. His greatest joy was his family. He loved his business and those who worked for him and who patronized the market can attest to that fact. He worked very hard providing the best in product and service but never considered it hard work.

“He claimed it was his golf,” Virginia said. “He loved visiting with his customers and joked that the many politicians who visited him over the counter tried out their speeches on him before taking it on the road.”

He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.

Virginia said up until recent months, he was not daunted by the weekly chemo treatments.  After a day or two when the effects wore off, he was ready for company at home or going out to a great restaurant.

He was a devout Catholic. He prayed to The Infant of Prague and the rosary daily.

“He had his mother’s heart and father’s sense of fairness and he was wise and generous, along with being a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend,” Virginia said.