Cover photo for John Zahner's Obituary
John Zahner Profile Photo

John Zahner

d. November 6, 2019

John A. Zahner

John Albert Zahner

Died suddenly November 6, 2019 in Melaque, Mexico after a brief illness.

Born on Friday, October 13, 1944 in Toledo, Ohio

on the eve of FDR’s landslide 4th electoral victory.

Preceded in death by his son John, Jr., parents, Albert and Marcella (nee Andrus),

sister Phyllis Mika, nephew Steve and niece Carol.

Survived by his wife Irma Erazo, sons Louis (Patricia) and Thomas (Carmen),

grandchildren Lucas, Margaret, and Henry, along with first wife Marie (nee Acero).

Also survived by sister Joan Dooley-Zahner,

and his nieces and nephews Tom, Nancy, Robert, Michael, and Marie.

A lifelong educator, he was a professor of Spanish at Montclair State University

from 1973 until his retirement in May of 2019.

He attended high school at St. Frances de Sales, an all-boys Catholic college preparatory school in Toledo.

He received his BA from the University of Toledo,

followed by an MA and PhD in Spanish, focusing on Spanish Medieval Literature, at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

He was a lifelong outdoorsman, animal lover, enthusiast of Spanish cultures,

history buff, and diligent follower of politics and current events.

He enjoyed spending time in nature with his sons.

He was a keen investor in real estate as well as stocks, and enjoyed tracking both the financial and real estate markets.

He had an encyclopedic knowledge of American automobiles

and loved the classic muscle cars, especially the Corvette,

and in particular the iconic 1963 split window,

one of which a good friend of his received brand new as an 18th birthday present

and they proceeded to flip over in a Toledo corn field a week later.

He was very handy, and naturally mechanically inclined, teaching and imparting these skills onto his sons.

He grew up in the country as he liked to call it, in a rural part of Toledo

where the family had a homestead with land and a creek at the back of the property

where he would hunt with his father and discover arrowheads and other Native American artifacts in the creek bed.

His family was among the earliest settlers of Ohio,

coming from Connecticut to what was then called the Western Reserve and a part of Connecticut.

His father Albert owned a Firestone store on Main Street in Toledo called Main Tire,

and during World War II, Albert vulcanized and retreaded tires for

the Toledo Willys-Overland plant

that produced the Jeeps that rolled across Nazi occupied Europe,

and he worked there alongside his father during his youth.

His mother Marcella was a homemaker and bookkeeper for the store,

and a Mayflower descendant.

Married to first wife Marie in 1969,

while they were both graduate students at the University of Arizona,

they had 3 children together and made their home in New Jersey

where he spent his nearly 50 year career teaching at Montclair State University.

He was quite proud of his sons Louis and Thomas,

who attended the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, respectively,

and of the success in their careers, and of their families.

He loved spending time with his three grandchildren as well.

Recently, he had retired from teaching and remarried,

and he and his wife Irma Erazo were enjoying life together and traveling and vacationing throughout Mexico and Florida,

finally doing so many of the things he had been longing to do in retirement, until his passing.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Zahner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, November 14, 2019

4:00 - 8:00 pm

Galante Funeral Home- Union

2800 Morris Ave, Union, NJ 07083

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Mass

Friday, November 15, 2019

Starts at 10:00 am

Our Lady of Fatima Church

380 Smith St, Perth Amboy, NJ 08861

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Galante Funeral Home-Union Location

2800 Morris Ave., Union, NJ 07083

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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