Sarah A. Zanzucchi, 96, of Flagstaff, A.Z., passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loving family to join her Lord Jesus on July 10, 2019. She will live forever in Christ’s love through her devotion and faith in the Catholic church.
Sarah was known to her children as Mom, and to others as Sally, or Grandma Sally. A long-time resident and business person of Flagstaff, she lived her life through acts of faith, hope, and love. Her greatest strength was love. She taught her family that God is love and she was their guiding light toward that love.
Sarah was born in Socorro, N.M., on Feb. 4, 1923. She grew up in Reserve, N.M., then moved to Flagstaff in 1942. While working as a waitress at the Grand Canyon Cafe she met the local milkman Frank “Zan” Zanzucchi. She said her friends loved Frank’s sense of humor but that at first he didn’t seem like much to her. Shortly after their meeting, however, he won her heart, they fell in love, and were married on New Year’s Eve, 1942.
Frank’s family owned Flagstaff Dairy. After their wedding, Sarah and Frank lived on the family farm where she was introduced to dairy life. She said she loved it all: the beauty of the aspen and pine trees, Granny’s farmhouse, barns, and the lake, which would later become known as Dry Lake.
Sarah said that those first years at the dairy were a “labor of love.” They planted acres of oat hay for the herd of cows, grew most of their own vegetables and raised chickens, turkeys, and pigs. It was there that she began a life-long friendship and bond with her mother-in-law Ermalinda “Granny” Zanzucchi. Sarah faced each of the challenges that come with farm life with responsibility, hard work, and love. Her most difficult and bitter challenge was the loss of her infant son Kenneth Edward to pneumonia in November 1948. Later, she would say she never stopped grieving for her precious infant son. Her grief, however, was never apparent as she maintained a happy household and contributed to the family businesses.
In 1950, Sarah and Frank purchased and moved into their home at 215 N. Leroux in downtown Flagstaff. They filled their home with 11children and all the while Sarah was a devoted servant of her beloved Nativity Church. Over the years, Sarah hosted many large family gatherings and celebrations. She filled her children’s and grandchildren’s lives with work, books, music, sports, laughter and cooking.
Sarah’s love overflowed for her family and friends. She was active in their sports, 4-H club and school activities, and studies. For over thirty years, she traveled the state as her children’s vociferous sports supporter. Whether it was her boys’ school teams, (football, basketball, wrestling, baseball), American Legion, Babe Ruth, Senior or Little League ball, or her only daughter on the pom line, Sarah was at all of the games. Her positive cheers and encouraging words seemed to be the loudest voice rising from the bleachers at every one of them. In 2014, Sarah was honored by the Flagstaff Sports Foundation as she and Frank posthumously, received induction into the Flagstaff Sports Hall of Fame.
Food was always an important part of Sarah’s life and as a cook, she was ahead of her time. She avoided processed foods for her children. There was always plenty of milk in the refrigerator and freshly pressure-cooked beans on the stove. She saved money by purchasing apples and other fresh fruits in bulk. She was always cooking and knew that along with her children, there would be many of their friends over to the house, yet, she always had plenty of food for everyone. Her skills in the kitchen led her to take jobs at the Flagstaff Junior High and Flagstaff High School cafeterias.
Sarah was passionate about her children’s education. She read with them, helped them with their homework and often led them in a Rosary. She never missed a parent-teacher conference. Her boys knew that if they were ever disrespectful to their teachers, they would feel their Mom’s love through a swift swing of the Whiffle ball bat across their backside.
Sarah’s faith and devotion were a lifetime passion. She spent most mornings at 6:30 a.m. mass, then woke her family up to the sound of country music on the radio and the smell of bacon and eggs cooking in the kitchen. She encouraged her children to take up musical instruments, like the accordion, guitar, piano, trumpet and clarinet. Each day, she did her chores to the sound of what her children called her “air whistle”. She was always open to new music and loved listening to her children sing the songs of The Beatles and Elvis.
In 1980, the Zanzucchi family sold the dairy and all but one of Sarah’s children had graduated from Flagstaff High School. Retirement, however, was not in the cards and in the late 1980s she and Frank took over the family restaurant, Granny’s Closet. It was here that her skills in the kitchen touched many lives. Each day, Sarah prepared a fresh salad bar and made soup from scratch. She became renowned for her fresh baked deep-dish fruit pies, and prepared homemade ravioli from an old family recipe. This was often done at her home kitchen between the lunch and dinner rush at the restaurant while babysitting grandchildren. Sarah taught them how to roll the dough, and fill it with her secret mixture of meat, spinach and spices.
The restaurant thrived for many years and Sarah and Frank taught their children and grandchildren much about how to run a business. At Granny’s Closet, Sarah’s work and laughter touched the lives of many Northern Arizona University students and young people of Flagstaff who worked as her employees.
Sarah was proud that she raised her children with hard work, responsibility and love. She reminded all of her children and grandchildren to be their own person, and that life could be rough, and to make it, you had to be tough. In one of her last writings she said, “Our busy lives were filled with love, so many happy times of family gatherings and lasting friendships. I am so happy that all of our children were able to grow and mature in a setting of responsibility and hard work.” Sarah is deeply missed and will always be remembered for her hard work, dedication to her family, her sense of humor, and her warm smile.
Sarah is survived by her brother Edward (Barbara) Atwood, children Frank, Hank, Matt, Martin (Stacie), Linda Castillo (Robert), John (Dee), Tim (Theresa), Joe (Pam), Terry (Yvonne), James (Jennifer) and Vincent (Debbie). Also, 24 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Frank, son Kenneth, sisters Lorena and Genevieve, brothers Thomas, Matthew, Robert, and grandson Brian Zanzucchi.
A private burial ceremony for the family was held at gravesite. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Hope Pregnancy Resource Center of Flagstaff. Memories and condolences can be shared with family directly or online at www.norvelowensmortuary.com