LCDR John Philip Zaretki (Ret)

Published 10:16 am Monday, November 7, 2011

LCDR John Philip Zaretki (Ret)


LCDR John Philip Zaretki (Ret) died on Nov. 3, 2011. Born in Birmingham on Nov. 25, 1937, he was the son of the late John Zaretki Jr. and the late Elsie Barnett Zaretki. He was preceded in death by his brother, Carl Zaretki in February of this year and by his infant twin brother in 1937.


He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1956. After attending Nuclear Power School, he served aboard the USS Nautilus on the historic first submarine transit to, and under, the North Pole, for which he was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (1958). He earned a BA degree in mathematics from Vanderbilt University in 1962 and was commissioned as an officer the same year. He earned a master’s degree in oceanography from the Naval Post Graduate School at Monterey, Calif., in 1969, later serving as staff oceanographer, Tactical Institute of the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare School, San Diego, Calif. For his service in Vietnam, the U.S. Navy awarded him Combat Action Ribbon (1971, Vietnam), the Vietnam Service Medal with Four Bronze Stars (1966-1972), the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” (1970-1971, senior advisor to the Republic of the Vietnam Navy, River Assault Group 27) and a Navy Unit Commendation (1972, USS Chicago in the waters off Vietnam). The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces also awarded him their Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device in 1972 for his service to their country.

He is survived by his wife, Sue Fleming Zaretki of Vincent; his son, Steve Zaretki (Debi) or Moreno Valley, Calif.; his daughters, Barbara Zaretki and Valerie Zaretki of Denver, Colo.; and his step-daughters, Julia Hail of Ridgecrest, Calif., Cathy Hail of San Diego, Calif., and Amy Robertson (Barry) of Longmont, Colo. He has 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his aunt, Marie Sue Liptak of Dallas, Tex., and his uncle, P.T. (Jewel) Barnett of Birmingham.

A memorial service will be held at Kilgroe Funeral Home in Pell City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, LCDR Zaretki’s wishes were that memorial donations be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tenn., 38105-3678. Online memorial donations may be made at