Jane Marie Zuzalek
Jane Marie Zuzalek died in Santa Barbara on April 23 at age 94. She was born in Santa Maria, California on August 8, 1923. Her parents were Henry T. and Gertrude James Kortner. Her maternal grandparents, Jane Hall James and Charles James, were early settlers and pioneers in the Santa Maria Valley. Jane’s great grandmother arrived in California via covered wagon.
Upon the early death of Jane’s father, she and her mother moved to Santa Barbara, where Jane started her schooling. She attended Wilson School where her aunt, Miss Dottie B. Phoenix, was principal. Even at a young age, Jane was enamored with Santa Barbara and declared it was the only place where she wanted to live. It continued to be that way with Jane forever. She never stopped appreciating the magnificent ocean and mountain views afforded by lovely Santa Barbara. Jane always felt fortunate that she enjoyed the early days when Santa Barbara’s population totaled 8,000, it wasn’t necessary to lock doors, and State Street was the shopping hub where one was almost always certain to meet a friend.
At Santa Barbara High School, Jane met and fell in love with Ed Zuzalek. She married the young ensign on February 26, 1944, ten days before he was shipped overseas to the Pacific area during World War II. Three daughters, Yvette, Nanette, and Janette were born from the union. The marriage lasted thirty-four years, until Ed died in December, 1978.
Jane graduated with honors from Santa Barbara High School in 1941. She was a Sealbearer with the Scholastic Society of California. Upon graduation from Santa Barbara Business College, she worked for Seaside Oil Company and the City Contracting Company until her husband returned from overseas. Later and upon his return from the South Pacific, she took a seven year hiatus from office work and devoted her time to her then teacher/principal husband and their three daughters. Eventually she continued her schooling, graduated from Santa Barbara City College and attended classes at UCSB. She then went to work at the Central Office of the Santa Barbara School District. She worked as Dr. Leonard Bowman’s secretary. Later she transferred to San Marcos High School, then Santa Barbara High School, and later she worked for the Adult Education of Division of Santa Barbara City College. This spanned a period of over thirty years. She always felt fortunate to have spent so many years working with both young and old students, doing the sort of work she truly enjoyed.
Jane and Eddie had a very active social life. The both loved ballroom dancing and were members of several dance clubs. Jane was a member of Beta Sigma Phi sorority. She taught Sunday School in the First Presbyterian Church, and Eddie was head usher for many years at the same church. Surprisingly, on the same day, but at different schools, Ed and Jane were honored with a PTA Life Membership because of their school activities. Their summers were always spent traveling within the United States with their daughters. In later years they traveled to Mexico, Canada, and Europe. After Eddie’s death, Jane visited more exotic areas such as New Guinea, Thailand, Guatemala, and China, when it was first opened to tourists. Jane also found great pleasure in playing bridge with her friends, attending Adult Education classes, and reading. One heard Jane often say, “The only thing better than reading a good book is discussing it with friends and family.”
Jane is survived by her two daughters, Yvette Peden and Nanette Covarrubias. The youngest daughter, Janette Zuzalek, preceded Jane in death. Also surviving her is her grandson, Jacob Covarrubias, and her son-in-law, Jack Peden, as well as her sister-in-law, Mary Ann Williams. Jane’s surviving nieces and nephews are Carol Ann Roe, Sandy Ventress, Dave Zuzalek, Pam Contreras, Paula Coomer, Matthew Williams, and Dan Zuzalek. Jane’s friend, Bob Keats, also survives her.
Donations may be made in Jane’s memory to the Mental Health Association, 617 Garden Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, or to a charity of your choice.