Jack Bennett ZilkerApril 7, 1926 ~ May 16, 2017 (age 91)
May Watson and Frank Zilker produced a lively son who continued to be a special person for 91 years. Jack was a man of contrasts –multi-talented with many layers of awareness, sensitivity and insights.
He lived his life based on deep beliefs he rarely discussed.
He knew everything. He could fix everything. He could explain everything. He ruled his universe with integrity, fairness, inclusivity, and generosity.
He was a pontificator, a lecturer, opinionator, storyteller, mentor and teacher of tough lessons. He was particular, specific and definitive and expected everyone else to be the same.
He played base fiddle in nightclub jazz bands as a teenager before he joined the Navy. He rode the wild seas of war on a destroyer & returned with a pierced ear and an emerald earring.
He considered going to Episcopal seminary, was going to build an electron microscope and opened a portrait studio that morphed into the business that made his successful career. He and partner Bill Taylor started Photographic Laboratories, which became National Photographic Laboratories and finally NPL, Inc. They were legendary in the audiovisual world of Houston- winning awards and having an influence on many photographers. His impact and authority has been recognized. The US Small Business Administration selected him as Businessman of the Year for Houston and Texas. The Houston Chapter of the American Advertising Federation chose him as Man of the Year.
His more recent endeavor was a 10-year “retirement” business of photographing artwork-particularly jewelry and craft objects.
He was a teenage pilot and owned a series of beloved aircraft. He didn’t just fly them—he resurrected them, worked on them, rebuilt every atom on them and turned each one into a small version of an airliner.
And there were the pipe organs…..also rebuilt, refinished and lovingly installed in the house with a dedicated room for the pipes. Didn’t everyone have an orgatorium in their house?
And we can’t forget the Double J Ranch—over 600 acres in the Hill Country full of Longhorns, deer, goats, snakes and other critters –all appreciated, respected and enjoyed in their own way.
He teased, he charmed, he laughed. He loved expansively and the love was returned by Jacqueline Zilker, his co-pilot, co-parent and co-adventurer. His children are the grateful beneficiaries of his intense support and nurturing-Sandie Zilker, Susan Zilker Murray and Jack Neal, Jay Frank and fiancée Kim Wodstrchill, and John Zilker. Elizabeth Murray, Cara Murray and Kelly Heather, Ryan Murray and Christina Betts, Whitley Frank and Joshua Frank could not have had a better Grandpa. A significant number of people could not have had a better friend.
Deep appreciation goes to everyone at CHI St. Luke’s Hospital. The doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants of the 2nd Floor CCU and 8th floor ICU gave outstanding care with compassion. A special thanks goes to the chaplain who laughed and prayed with us and offered unfailing support.
A celebration of life honoring Jack will be held Tuesday, May 23, 2017 from five o’clock until eight o’clock in the evening at Bradshaw Carter Memorial & Funeral Services, 1734 W. Alabama St. in Houston.
If desired, Jack would be honored to have donations made to
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main St. Houston 77002, www.crafthouston.org, Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge, 17552 FM14, Tyler, TX 75706, www.tigercreek.org, or Texas Heart Institute, 6770 Bertner Ave. C350, Houston 770030, www.thenextfirst.org.