Calvin Zaun, of Cherry Hill, the father of the American POW whose battered face became an iconic image during the Persian Gulf War, died Sunday, May 27, at the Lutheran Home nursing-care facility in Moorestown after a long illness.
Mr. Zaun’s son, Jeffrey, was held captive for six weeks by Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991. Calvin and Marjorie Zaun found their quiet lives on Whitman Avenue in Cherry Hill plunged into a media maelstrom after their son’s captors paraded Jeffrey Zaun and other prisoners of war on Iraqi TV and forced them to read propaganda statements on Jan. 20.
Mr. Zaun was born and raised in Gloucester City, and he graduated from Gloucester City High School in 1947.
He served as a cook in the Air Force from 1948 to 1952, rising to the rank of technical sergeant.
After the service, he worked for nearly 30 years at Linton’s all-night diner at 18th and Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia. His time as the night counterman working the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift was the subject of a 1977 column by The Inquirer’s Dorothy Storck.
Mr. Zaun then worked for the next two decades as a security guard and maintenance employee at Cherry Hill High School East.
He met his wife of 53 years in a square-dancing class at the YMCA in Center City, she recalled.
Jeffrey Zaun, now a credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s, said his father "taught me how to be calm, to keep my cool."
In addition his wife and son, Mr. Zaun is survived by a daughter, Linda Zubrin, and two grandchildren.
A viewing will be held Friday, June 1, from 9 to 11 a.m., at Haddonfield United Methodist Church, 29 Warwick Rd., Haddonfield, where Mr. Zaun was a member. The funeral will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Haddonfield United Methodist’s memorial fund, which benefits the church’s youth ministry.