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ZAOZIRNY – John Matthew

1914 – 2010

John Matthew Zaozirny, beloved husband of Katherine (Kay), beloved father of Judy and John, and the man affectionately known as “Mr. Z” passed away peacefully in Calgary on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

John was born in Mundare, Alberta where his father Matt owned a general store. John shared his father’s love of business and people and followed in his father’s footsteps in later life. He described himself as a product of the Depression. His father passed away in 1929 when John was only 15 and John became the man of the house for his mother Mary and sister Olga. Despite those difficult years and all the challenges life threw his way, he will best be remembered for his positive and cheerful attitude towards life. He loved life and appreciated every day of it, even as the aging process took its toll. He said “the parts just start to wear out”. He never complained. John attended Camrose Normal School for teacher training where he met and courted his beloved Kay, who would become his wife and partner for over 66 years. In the midst of the Great Depression, he finally got a teaching position near Innisfree, Alberta. He was paid $650 for the year. He married Kay in 1939 when he was principal of a two-room school in Warwick, Alberta. Soon after he decided to try his hand at business at the East Coulee Hotel in the Drumheller Valley. He liked the hotel business and next moved to Calgary as an owner and manager of the Imperial Hotel. He built a career as a hotel man and served for many years on the Executive of the Alberta Hotel Association. Some years later, he turned his entrepreneurial focus to the hotel and restaurant supply business with considerable success. When he eventually sold the wholesale business he remained active in business, pausing briefly for open-heart surgery at the age of 79. At the age of 87 he reduced his office hours to 5 hours a day, his version of early retirement. He was a man of extraordinary determination and remarkable will. His determination and will to live almost persuaded those who love him that he could defy the hard rules of life and live forever. He enjoyed the collegiality of his friends and business associates and will be remembered fondly for his hospitality and congeniality whether at home, at his office, or on a hunting trip. He was a devoted father and a loving husband who strongly believed that persuading Kay to marry him was his greatest achievement in life.

He will be forever lovingly remembered by his children Judy and John (Lori), his grandsons John, Stephen and Andrew (and their mother Elizabeth), and his nieces Rita (Ron) and Shirley (John). He was predeceased by his wife Katherine, his father Matt, his mother Mary, his sister Olga (Nick) and his nephew Roy (Gloria).

Funeral Services will be held at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Park Memorial Chapel (5008 Elbow Drive S.W.) on Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Stephenson Cardiovascular MR Centre in Calgary. Forward condolences through

In living memory of John Zaozirny, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: (403) 243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Lil & Rick Birarda :

    We have fond memories of our many enjoyable visits with John and Kay over the years since our marriage in 1946. Even when not feeling “up to par”, John & Kay were forever the consummate good hosts.
    Though we are aware that the passing of the elderly must be accepted, the loss of loved ones is difficult to bear.
    We will miss him dearly and offer the family our heartfelt condolences and prayers in the hope that God will comfort you in your time of sorrow.

    Kay’s Sister Lil & Rick Birarda and family

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