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David passed away at Watauga Medical Center in Boone, North Carolina on Nov 30 from lymphoma. He was born in Providence on November 17, 1947 to John & Eleanor Bennett Zielinski. He was formerly married to Maureen Curran of Lincoln. David was a Captain with the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He also served as Judge Advocate to the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve in Rhode Island.
David started his career in law enforcement with the Providence Police Department in 1965 rising to the rank of Major before his retirement in 1985. During his time with PPD, he attended night school at Roger Williams College, University of RI and Suffolk University School of Law in Boston graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1974 with Juris Doctor degree. Subsequent to his career with the police department, he served as legal counsel to the Rhode Island Secretary of State. David joined the ranks of federal government employees in 2000 after moving to Washington DC. He contributed his perspective and expertise of ethical fairness and legal analysis to a bureaucratic environment that was not always welcomed but always respected.
David worked in a legal and law enforcement capacity for various federal governmental departments & agencies including Federal Labor Relations Board, National Labor Relations Board, Department of Justice, Peace Corps, US Treasury and US Postal Service. During those appointments he worked in various countries around the globe and was posted on U.S. diplomatic assignment with his wife, Jeanne, to South Africa, Israel & Tunisia. Dave served as senior police advisor to the Palestinian Authority Civil Police in the West Bank and Gaza through the Israeli Consulate in Jerusalem. In South Africa he was the Resident Advisor to the National Director of Public Prosecution and senior advisor to the South African Police Service. Prior to his retirement Dave acted as the Resident Advisor to the African Development Bank in Tunis, Tunisia.
David retired in 2007 moving to New Bern NC with his wife and 3 cats where he enjoyed spending quality time swapping tales with neighbors and friends and boating the Neuse & Trent Rivers. He had a love of travel, meeting new people and immersing himself in different cultures. After being diagnosed in 2016 with a form of leukemia resulting from his service in Vietnam, David worked to help other Vietnam veterans secure benefits to provide medical assistance. David never met a stranger.
David is survived by his loving wife, Jeanne Kern Zielinski and siblings, Rosemary Bennett Pettit of Mashpee MA, George Bennett of Warwick, Eleanor (Lucco) Florio of East Greenwich, Janice (Ronald) Pezzullo of North Kingstown, Susan Cadman of Warwick and the late Ann Delaine Coogan of Warwick. He is also survived by several cherished nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to express its thanks and gratitude to Drs. John Cho and Craig Zavelo (New Bern NC) and Dr. Hawkins and the nurses, medical staff at Watauga Medical Center in Boone for the wonderful care provided to David.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, from 4 – 8 pm in the Russell J. Boyle and Son Funeral Home, 142 Centerville Rd., Warwick. Funeral Friday at 9 am followed by burial with military honors in the R.I. Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Exeter. Pallbearers are Edward Albanese, Luccio Florio Jr., James Monacelli, John Monacelli, John Monacelli Jr., Gil Tori-Perito. Honorary Pallbearers are Luccio Florio, Sr. and Col. Steven Kelley. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions to your local chapters of the American Cancer Society, the Vietnam Veterans Association or a charity of your choice.