Family mourns loss of Pearl Harbor survivor

Posted at 12:12 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 15:12:54-05

SAN DIEGO - While many survivors are remembering the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a family is planning the funeral for an El Cajon man who lived through that day.

Susan Battisti could not help but break down when she spoke to 10News about her father, Jim Marek.

"I'm so proud to have both of them as my parents," Battisti said of her father and mother, Elaine.

Battisti remembers watching them dance, but her dad always took time for her.

"I would take my dad's right hand, and we would dance," Battisti added.

Elaine and James Marek showed her what true love looks like.

"I thought he was the handsomest man on this Earth," Marek said as she giggled.

The pair had been inseparable since 1948.

"We were a team," Marek said. "We did things together."

They would finish each other's sentences, except when it came to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"It was very hard for him to discuss it," Marek explained.

She was by his side as he visited his friends' gravesites.

"He honored our country," Marek said. "He served."

She loved that about him, and she loved waking up to the sweet smell of cinnamon rolls he would bake her.

"They told me he would never move again. It was a massive stroke," Marek said.

Marek was holding his left hand and he grabbed Battisti's right hand one last time, then lifted it to his heart and passed away.

Marek planned the funeral for Dec. 9 so she can be by his ashes on what would have been their 68th wedding anniversary.

"I'm keeping him here with me," Marek said. "I've got a double urn, and when it's my time, I'll go on the other side."

She longs for the day she'll be beside her true love again.

"When the good Lord calls me home, then we'll be together," she added.

A funeral service will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Kieran Catholic Church in El Cajon. The mass is open to the public.

In lieu of flowers, the family ask people to donate to a charity of your choice.