Eugenia “Kena” Hodge-Zaid

Date of Birth

January 1, 1927

Date of Death

December 27, 2010

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Long time Santa Barbara resident, ceramist Eugenia “Kena” Hodge-Zaid, succumbed, after a short battle against the complications of lung cancer on December 27, 2010 at Cottage Hospital. With her light, quick step and boundless energy, even her closest friends were surprised by her sudden demise.

She was born in Los Angeles to Mexican American immigrants and was fiercely proud of her Hispanic roots. When newly widowed, her mother took the young Kena and her older sister Ana Luisa to New York City where Kena ultimately became a free lance film editor working on award winning films, documentaries and television commercials.

In 1970, Kena met the love of her life, engineer/sculptor, Mel Zaid. The two turned their backs on their earlier professional careers and lived every day as a fantastic adventure, for the next 40 years, as active and creative members of art communities in New York, Boston, and (finally) Santa Barbara. Kena became noted for her exquisitely delicate porcelain ceramics while Mel, with a few exceptions, used Kena’s face and profile as the model for a remarkable body of work. Their creative symbiosis and mutual devotion became a legend among friends and colleagues.

As a parish member of The Santa Barbara Mission, Kena’s interests and activities expanded to include participation in bible studies and issues of spirituality with a lay Catholic study group, Word and Life. It was here that she embarked upon an intellectual and spiritual journey which ultimately influenced her later ceramic pieces, deepened her relationships with friends and family, and inspired an extraordinary eight foot high contemporary crucifix created by her husband. Her faith and sense of community also manifested itself in tireless volunteerism within and outside of the Catholic Church. She helped in the kitchen at Transition House and became a Eucharistic minister at both the Mission and Cottage Hospital where she became a valued member of the Spiritual care team.

A Catholic Mass was said in her honor at the Mission on January 4th 2011 after which she was interred at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Kena Hodge-Zaid is survived by her husband Mel Zaid, her daughter Cristina Hodge Thronson, stepson Jon Zaid and Mel’s sons Andrew and Adam Zaid; grandchildren Katherine Thronson Zimmerman, Melvin, Carolina, and Thomas Zaid; and a large extended family and friends.


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