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Roger Zatkoff

March 25, 1931 November 4, 2021
Roger Zatkoff
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Obituary for Roger Zatkoff

Roger Zatkoff, 90, passed away peacefully at home in his sleep on November 4th. Roger was born in Hamtramck on March 25th, 1931 to Paul and Marie Bellisario Zatkoff.

Roger was predeceased by the love of his life, Elaine Russell Zatkoff, both his parents (Paul and Marie Zatkoff), as well as his brother, Ronald (Bertha) Zatkoff.

Roger married his high school sweetheart, Elaine Zatkoff, in 1951 and they were married for 69 years. Together they had six children: the late Sandra (John) Kogut, Denise (Marc) Staudt, Karen (John Arthur) Steitz, David (Marie) Zatkoff, Gary (Anna) Zatkoff, and the late Brian Zatkoff; eleven grandchildren: James (Caarin) Kogut, CJ (Katie) Kogut, Jonathan (Dani) Zatkoff, Jason Zatkoff, Ashley (Neil) Plamp, Joe (Cate) Zatkoff, Justin (Melinda) Zatkoff, Kathy (Simon) Rubin, Roger Paul (Megan) Zatkoff, Gillian Staudt, and Jenna Staudt; and sixteen great-grandchildren: Nick Kogut, Alex Kogut, Matt Kogut, Cody Kogut, Benjamin Zatkoff, Chloe Kogut, Henry Zatkoff, Max Zatkoff, Jackson Zatkoff, Brian Rubin, Cameron Kogut, Madeleine Plamp, Olivia Zatkoff, Reagan Rubin, Colin Plamp, and Micah Zatkoff. There was no bigger smile from Roger than when he was holding one of his many grandchildren and eventually his great-grandchildren.

Roger received a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan in 1949 for football and was a three-year letter winner. He played on the 1951 Rose Bowl Championship team and was selected as an All-Big Ten player in 1952. He was drafted in 1953 by the Green Bay Packers and was a three-time Pro Bowler during his time there. In 1957, Roger came home to play for the Detroit Lions and won the team’s only NFL Championship. Roger retired from the NFL in 1958. Following his retirement, Roger went back to complete his degree in 1964 at the University of Michigan as a Physical Education major at the urging of his former coach, Benny Oosterbaan. In 1985, Roger was inducted into the University of Michigan’s Hall of Honor and shortly thereafter Michigan established the Roger Zatkoff Linebacker Award presented to “the outstanding linebacker at the conclusion of each football season”.

Roger and Elaine founded Zatkoff Seals & Packing in 1959 from their 963 square foot home in Redford Township. They packaged and sold O-Rings from the basement often times with the help of their young children in tow. Today the business is run by the second and third generations with 9 branches nationally, 200 beloved employees, and is the largest distributor of seals in North America. In 1999, Roger retired from the company and became Vice President of Entertainment, a role that involved many rounds of golf at his beloved country club, Oakland Hills.

Roger was known for his lifelong generosity to various local non-profits and for being a proud supporter of the University of Michigan. Roger felt being provided a scholarship to play college football changed his life and it was his dream to pay it forward for future generations. Elaine and Roger Zatkoff created at least one endowed scholarship for every athletic team at the University of Michigan and multiple through the School of Kinesiology. To date, Roger and Elaine have supported 186 students in receiving their University of Michigan degree. For his generosity, the University of Michigan awarded Roger with the David B. Hermelin Volunteer Fundraising Award as well as the School of Kinesiology’s Dean’s Medal.

A Memorial Mass will be held on December 11th at Holy Name Catholic Church at 10:00 am. Friends may visit beginning at 9:30 am. In honoring Roger’s legacy, the Zatkoff family would appreciate memorial contributions be made to the Hamtramck Parks Conservancy The Zatkoff family was beginning to work on a playground dedication for Elaine Zatkoff prior to Roger’s passing that Roger enthusiastically supported. This Park is a few blocks from Elaine’s childhood home and where Roger began his football career for Hamtramck High.

Roger was a giant among men and will be greatly missed by all who met him.


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