Friday, January 8, 2021

Walter Ronald Zahniser


  Walter Ronald Zahniser was born in Berkeley on February 23, 1929 to Albert D. Zahniser and Edith D. Zahniser.

   With his wife Mary at his side, Ron passed away peacefully in his home on December 27, 2020, and laid to rest January 8, 2021.

   Ron spent the first years of his life raised alongside his two brothers (Fred and Jim) and sister (Joan) in El Cerrito.  During this time he was a very active youth, having a paper route by age 8 and after

school cleaning stalls at the horse racetrack.

   Eventually Ron acquired his first horse "Paiute" and would ride to deliver newspapers. Ron also enjoyed the hobby of keeping homing pigeons and once received a banded pigeon from the "Birdman of Alcatraz" with a message stating "congratulations" for receiving his pigeon.

   Being an outgoing student, in his early teens one day decided to self-check out of school (ditch day) and take a ride with some friends up to the foothills.  

   The group of explorers managed to get as far as a dude ranch located near Mountain Ranch.  Being from the East Bay, Ron was fascinated and intrigued by the operations of the dude ranch and desired to work on it.

   In 1943 Ron began working at the dude ranch and the following year his dad purchased approximately 300 acres on Whiskey Slide Road and relocated the family from Alameda to Calaveras County.

   Ron enrolled as a student at Calaveras High School in 1945 and was a good athlete, student and class president his senior year.

   Most importantly he met a beautiful girl named Mary, whom he wed after high school.  Recently Ron and May celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary.

   Although he would later (1980's) become the successful owner of Ron's Towing and Auto Repair in San Andreas, after high school he went to work at Calaveras Cement, married in 1948 and by 1952 had three children; Kathleen, David and Rhonda.

   Being an energetic father Ron worked two additional jobs to support his family, but also provided the means to spend time together in recreation, and purchased many horses, boats, motorcycles, cars and even an airplane.

   He used many different vehicles to tow his boat to Lake Hogan, Tulloch and Melones, where the kids

and grandkids would learn how to water ski.

   Of the many different vehicles Ron owned, he had a particular fondness for two that he purchased new; his beloved 1958 Chevrolet Cameo and a 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS, which have been preserved and retained to this day.

   Another passion was flying his airplane (1947) Stinson) and Ron developed a couple of signature moves that he would perform to alert his family that he had taken flight.  While flying slowly overhead, he would tilt the wings from left to right rapidly, signifying a wave from above.

   When outside of town, over the ranch, he would cut the throttle and dive silently, then go full throttle as he pulled up right above the ground to pull out of the dive, always providing a degree of excitement for those that would dare to fly with him, and surprise those unaware on the ground.

   Ron also had a few different tractors, for which he liked to use to maintain his property, with onlookers never knowing what landscaping vision he had next.

   More than anything, Ron loved his family and was a dedicated patriarch.  He was preceded in death by his father, mother, two brothers and the untimely passing of both of his daughters.

   He leaves behind his loving wife Mary, son David (Elaine) grandchildren Kevin (Susan), Shaun (Tracy), Jason and Aaron (Mary), along with great-grandchildren Airiana, Airick, Alexandria, Alexis, Andrew, Brandon, Cheyanne, Christian, Emily, Joseph, Justin, Madeline, Max, Miles, Michael and Nicholas and great-great-grandchildren Jeremy and Marsean, Jr.

   Ron's family will always love, miss and cherish the memories of him, and when we look towards the sky know that he is eternally waving at us from above.

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