ForeverMissed
Donald Albert Zollo, age 72, of Vista, CA passed away unexpectedly on February 24th, 2021 at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, CA

Don is survived by his grieving family: his loving partner of 20 years, Susan Roberts; his beloved children, Kelly Ray Zollo (daughter-in-law Rebecca Zollo); daughter Rose Cohen (son-in-law Adam Cohen); former spouse and loving mother of his children, Kathy Zollo Bazel; nine surviving siblings and their families. Donald was blessed with 6 grandchildren who he cherished the most: Justus, Elia, Noah, Lucas, Amaya, and Charlotte.

Donald was born on October 21st, 1948 in Waterbury, Connecticut, the 3rd born in a family of 10 children. He was preceded in death by both of his parents, Richard and Eva Zollo, the most wonderful, loving, and supportive parents anyone could have asked for. Don was very close with his 9 brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. His sense of family was the hallmark of who Don was as a person and what made him so special. Don was seen as the heart and soul of his family.

He went on to cultivate many lifelong friendships, and his friends became an extension of his already large family. After graduating from Naugatuck High School, Donald moved to Southern California with his close friends to explore their dreams and seek adventure. Soon after, he met and married Kathryn Kelly from Los Angeles. Many fun and crazy adventures took place over that decade, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Escapades were more enchanting than movie plots, definitely deserving of checking off the box of “living life to its fullest” cliché.

Then in 1978, a new type of adventure ensued, one of his greatest accomplishments, the birth of their first son, Kelly Ray. They peacefully settled in Laguna Beach as a family of three. Donald loved Kelly with such intensity and pride. Half a decade later, his Daughter Rose was born. His two children were the joy and light of his life. Donald was the most incredible hands-on, loving, caring, father. Donald was so thoughtful, tender-hearted and devoted to raising his kids with his same principles of kindness and loving character. He was adamant about instilling in them all the lessons he could teach about life. He always did his absolute best in every way he could and pushed his kids to do the same.

Donald had a heart of gold. He championed others in their lives. He was compassionate, humble, bright, had a great sense of humor, was generous and so fun to be around. He stood out as a great storyteller-albeit longwinded-and a great conversationalist. A collector of knowledge and facts starting at an early age, Don could inform and educate on the obscurest of details on many subjects. Don had great style-he so loved fine cuisine and wines, had a deep love for literature and music, especially jazz, and couldn’t get enough of his Red Sox’s.

Don was known for remembering family and friend’s birthdays and anniversaries, conveying the deep love that he had for all of us with his personal cards or letters or phone calls. Don had the rare capacity to make everyone in his orbit feel special, noticed, unique, and loved.

Don’s later years were spent surrounded by his grandchildren. They became the joy and light of his life. He was an amazing, hands-on and involved grandpa. He would go to every ball game and music concert to cheer them on and fill his grandchildren with an abundance of love.

He met Sue, his loving companion, in February of 2001. They created a beautiful life together filled with love, respect, and a deep bond. They loved to travel together and went on amazing, memorable trips. They shared in common their love for their families, especially their devotion to their grandchildren. He was very special to Sue’s grandchildren and loved them immensely like he did all of his grandkids. Sue gave to Don her strength, dedication, and love, during his time of illness. Day in and day out, she was there by his side taking care of him through to his unexpected but tragic final days. He was very lucky and blessed to have her as his partner in life.

Don was a legendary man who left a special and unique legacy of love for others and his mark on the world, solidifying his mark on so many people’s lives. A friend to everyone he crossed paths with. Donald was an extremely kind soul who always saw the best in everyone, persevered through life’s obstacles with grace and honor. He was always there for everyone, never complained a day in his life, never held resentments or spoke ill about anyone, he was just so sweet and truly a one-of-a-kind special man. He will live in our hearts forever. Heaven must surely have welcomed him.

Services to commemorate Donald will be held on Friday, April 16th at Mount of Olives Church at 24772 Chrisanta Drive, Mission Viejo, CA 92691 from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. This is followed by a graveside ceremony on April 16th at 2:00 pm at El Toro Memorial Park, 25751 Trabuco Rd, Lake Forest, CA after which a reception will be held at the family’s home in Ladera Ranch.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks to honor Donald by paying it forward with an act of kindness or a nice gesture, since that was who Donald was. 

Posted by Susan Brinchman on April 16, 2021
My husband David has been close friends with Donald since high school. Throughout all those near-60 years, the bond remained then and now, unbroken. Donald's thoughtfulness, concern, and love for his friends as well as family, described during his funeral today by so many, lived out one of the greatest Commandments: "Love one another, as I have loved you." He always remembered special events and did his best to support everyone in a way that has us still amazed. He is still with us, just on the other side of the veil, until we meet again, there. Donald, you have demonstrated an example of the love and kindness of God during your life, and may you rest in peace. Love is all we can take with us at the end of our physical lives, and this, you too, have done. Vaya con Dios, our dear friend!
Posted by Emily Mullins on March 30, 2021
What an incredible tribute! I grew up in Beacon Falls and knew Don for many years. Sadly, I lost touch with Don before he left for California. I lived in California for 8 years and would have tried to reconnect. We take life and good friends for granted too often.
I am happy to hear what a full and happy life he had and to read the words from other Zollos I knew back when...I am Harold Muroff's daughter, Nana. I changed my name to Emily in the early 80's. We live in Portland Oregon.
Sending love and condolences to the Zollo family. Don was a gem and will be missed.
Posted by DEBBIE HURST on March 24, 2021
Everything that my husband and I remembered about Don while talking a couple of nights ago were so beautifully written in his obituary, so I feel that the Don I knew was the true Don! Such a good heart, loved his family immensely, and so proud of them. Sue and her family were included in that, they were HIS family also. I was with Sue the night that she and
Don met, so I have known Don for 20 years, had many conversations with him about so many things. My favorites were music, bands that we had seen in the 70’s, wines, food, films, and his family. And, since we know how much he loved to talk, I knew how he felt about a lot of things! My husband said that Don was the “king of Orange County.”

Every time I visited San Diego, Don always hauled my big old suitcase upstairs, cooked for me, and put up with me for a week! But during baseball season, I had to put up with his Red Sox! I will never forget his laugh! Thank you Don for your 20 years of kindness and love to my best friend Sue. I will miss you Don, I will toast you with my next glass of fine red wine.  Sincerely, Debbie and Ron Hurst
Posted by Jahanavi Priola on March 18, 2021
Bee (and family)! So sorry for this loss in this world for you.

So certain that 'heart of gold' and adventurous description of Don is true, judging from Bee and her stories of such a treasured, close family.

Many best wishes for you as you cry and laugh through this coming time as life carries on and on...
~ Jahanavi
Posted by Marilee Swierczewski McGi... on March 17, 2021
You will be missed by your large and wonderful family. My love and sympathy to the Zollo family.
Posted by Victor Zollo on March 17, 2021
To my beloved Cousin Don and his beautiful family, first let me say Happy St.Patricks Day as Ric said on behalf of my beautiful Aunt Eva and her running mate my beautiful Irish Mom Ginny.
   Don, my heart breaks that did not get to say good bye. I loved you like a brother as i do all your siblings. As a little one with my big Sis Maddy away from home i spent every moment with you and your family. I shared with your family my greatest memory as a boy, your cool demeanor, I'm talking Marvin Gaye cool and how with out a doubt you were the BEST dressed Zollo ever.
   Don, i love you so and i know you are blessed with the Angels and reunited with all of our Extraordinary relatives. God Bless you, Cousin Victor. 
Posted by Dana Rossi on March 17, 2021
You will be missed Uncle Don. You will always so fun to be around and took the time to talk to all your nieces and nephews. I enjoyed hearing your stories so much. I've only been to Southern California twice in my life, for business and a convention. Both times I was too busy to visit all my relatives there. But when I was in San Diego, Don came out to my hotel and had a meal with me at their restaurant. When I was in Long Beach, Kelly came out to visit me by the convention center just like his dad. I know Don is up there smiling down on Kelly, Rose, and all his grandkids.
Posted by George Kraus on March 17, 2021
So glad we touched base after all these years before your passing. You always hear of the guy who didn’t have an enemy in the world, YOU were and always will be that guy. Thanks for being a part of my life, I’ll never forget you.
Posted by Doug Moffat on March 17, 2021
me an don go way back he was the greatest friend when ever he came back to town he stop an visit an we laugh about our years growing up in this great little town will miss my friend from a great family
Posted by Tony Zollo on March 17, 2021
What to say about my brother Donald, I’m #8 of us 10, but Donald was always just as interested in his
younger siblings as he was with the first 5. In the late 70’s and early 80’s I’d make trips out to see Don
and Kathy in Southern Cal and also when Kelly was born.

Don always wanted to know what job I was doing and what sport was I still playing. He loved the fact
that I still played basketball with my former high school friends, and that my brother Michael and I still
hung out with our school boy friends, which we still do to this day.

Don took me to a couple LA Laker games, and a couple Dodger games as well. On one visit we all went
to an outdoor concert and saw the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Boz Scaggs. Anytime I hear them on the
radio it takes me back to that show. We even saw the famous John Henry win the Santa Anita Open in
either 81 or 82, which he won both years. On top of that, the same year he got us Pit Passes to the Long
Beach Grand Prix. One year I came out, Don and Kelly (he was 4 or 5) took a road trip with me to visit
our two sisters (Eva and Tina) in Tuscon, AZ, where they were attending the U of AZ. Then we
continued on our trip through Sedona and then to the Grand Canyon. That was a great trip.

Being with Donald also meant you could count on always having a great meal each day. I hope you are
enjoying talking baseball and politics with Mark, and hanging with Mom and Dad, along with all our
Zollo and Fitzpatrick clan. You are a wonderful brother, may the road rise up to meet you!!
Posted by Rhea Sheets on March 17, 2021
More like a brother to me, Don was my cousin who was always there for me, my parents Al and Toni, my daughter Lilli and grandkids Teagan and Tanner. Don lived in California longer than he lived in his home town of Beacon Falls. He was my rock when I returned to Cali twice in a broken state of mind &heart. He visited my parents couple times a month minimum for many years. He spoke at Uncle Al's service when I could not speak. He saved my sorry ass more than I can remember. I don't know what I'll do without his presence in my life, but I'll always have him in my heart ❤️
You're held up in the Light, Don. Forever in our hearts. Can't wait to see you again soon. Save a seat for me at the card table.  Rhea Zollo Sheets
Posted by Madelyne Pope on March 17, 2021
This beautiful tribute to my dear cousin, Donald, fills my heart! The last time I saw Donald was at Uncle Dick's funeral. We had a quiet moment together - reminiscing about our childhoods, loving aunts, uncles and cousins, and the freedom to roam the hills of Beacon Falls..Indeed, the "band of cousins" (from Livia to Tina) had fun and always "covered" for each other...

We ended the conversation talking about his love for Susan, Kelly, Rose and their children. Donald stated that his family was his life blessing. Indeed they are.....then, now and forever!

Love also to my cousins, Donald's brothers and sisters and their families ...my prayers and thoughts are with you all.

Cousin Maddy Zollo Pope
Posted by traci bands on March 17, 2021
To Tina and family,
We are very sorry for your loss. Prayers with you and your family.
the bands family
Posted by rick zollo on March 17, 2021
Don,
Brother Rick here. I know you're lingering out there, waiting for one of your buds to catch up to you, you want to tell them about the trip, this time-travel thing, and as you liked to say when stuff looked bad, no biggee, no biggee.
Don, you were known for your big heart. For your bursts of laughter. and for those tall tales you loved to tell. Wait? They weren't tall tails? They really happened? What? You just said something. Let me get quiet so I can hear what you're saying. Who said that? I know it wasn't you, Don. Somebody up there said Rick, you should talk. You're the one with the big mouth.
Don, i'm kidding, because it all seems so unreal. You had this bounce-back way about you. It was never about you. Your stories were about others. The so many people you loved. The ones you met along the way. Like that blind saxophonist Roland Kirk. You and your buds would enter a jazz club. Roland would be blowing from two saxophones. At the same time! And he'd hear you or maybe Eddie or one your pals say something, and he say into the mic, we got friends in the house. That was you, Don. A maestro at making friends. A genius at remembering your family members. Like, okay, i'm writing this on the morning of March 17. Does that ring a bell? Eva! Mom! Green! St. Patrick. You know Pat. The Irishman who was famous for...were they snakes? Or bottles of Jameson? I forget. Only if Mom was still around...Mom, if you hear this you know I'm kidding...Mom would make us wear some green something, like maybe even a scarf, or maybe carry a big cookie with green frosting...Mom loved St. Pat's Day. And Don, you loved Mom. Dad. Your bro's and sisters. Your  Kelly Ray, Rose, those two women in your life, first Kath, then Susan...loved them at different times...but still love them...still love us all...Don, you're still out there as far as I'm concerned.    Big Brother Rick

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Susan Brinchman on April 16, 2021
My husband David has been close friends with Donald since high school. Throughout all those near-60 years, the bond remained then and now, unbroken. Donald's thoughtfulness, concern, and love for his friends as well as family, described during his funeral today by so many, lived out one of the greatest Commandments: "Love one another, as I have loved you." He always remembered special events and did his best to support everyone in a way that has us still amazed. He is still with us, just on the other side of the veil, until we meet again, there. Donald, you have demonstrated an example of the love and kindness of God during your life, and may you rest in peace. Love is all we can take with us at the end of our physical lives, and this, you too, have done. Vaya con Dios, our dear friend!
Posted by Emily Mullins on March 30, 2021
What an incredible tribute! I grew up in Beacon Falls and knew Don for many years. Sadly, I lost touch with Don before he left for California. I lived in California for 8 years and would have tried to reconnect. We take life and good friends for granted too often.
I am happy to hear what a full and happy life he had and to read the words from other Zollos I knew back when...I am Harold Muroff's daughter, Nana. I changed my name to Emily in the early 80's. We live in Portland Oregon.
Sending love and condolences to the Zollo family. Don was a gem and will be missed.
Posted by DEBBIE HURST on March 24, 2021
Everything that my husband and I remembered about Don while talking a couple of nights ago were so beautifully written in his obituary, so I feel that the Don I knew was the true Don! Such a good heart, loved his family immensely, and so proud of them. Sue and her family were included in that, they were HIS family also. I was with Sue the night that she and
Don met, so I have known Don for 20 years, had many conversations with him about so many things. My favorites were music, bands that we had seen in the 70’s, wines, food, films, and his family. And, since we know how much he loved to talk, I knew how he felt about a lot of things! My husband said that Don was the “king of Orange County.”

Every time I visited San Diego, Don always hauled my big old suitcase upstairs, cooked for me, and put up with me for a week! But during baseball season, I had to put up with his Red Sox! I will never forget his laugh! Thank you Don for your 20 years of kindness and love to my best friend Sue. I will miss you Don, I will toast you with my next glass of fine red wine.  Sincerely, Debbie and Ron Hurst
his Life
Donald Albert Zollo, age 72, of Vista, CA passed away unexpectedly on February 24th, 2021 at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, CA

Don is survived by his grieving family: his loving partner of 20 years, Susan Roberts; his beloved children, Kelly Ray Zollo (daughter-in-law Rebecca Zollo); daughter Rose Cohen (son-in-law Adam Cohen); former spouse and loving mother of his children, Kathy Zollo Bazel; nine surviving siblings and their families. Donald was blessed with 6 grandchildren who he cherished the most: Justus, Elia, Noah, Lucas, Amaya, and Charlotte.

Donald was born on October 21st, 1948 in Waterbury, Connecticut, the 3rd born in a family of 10 children. He was preceded in death by both of his parents, Richard and Eva Zollo, the most wonderful, loving, and supportive parents anyone could have asked for. Don was very close with his 9 brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. His sense of family was the hallmark of who Don was as a person and what made him so special. Don was seen as the heart and soul of his family.

He went on to cultivate many lifelong friendships, and his friends became an extension of his already large family. After graduating from Naugatuck High School, Donald moved to Southern California with his close friends to explore their dreams and seek adventure. Soon after, he met and married Kathryn Kelly from Los Angeles. Many fun and crazy adventures took place over that decade, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Escapades were more enchanting than movie plots, definitely deserving of checking off the box of “living life to its fullest” cliché.

Then in 1978, a new type of adventure ensued, one of his greatest accomplishments, the birth of their first son, Kelly Ray. They peacefully settled in Laguna Beach as a family of three. Donald loved Kelly with such intensity and pride. Half a decade later, his Daughter Rose was born. His two children were the joy and light of his life. Donald was the most incredible hands-on, loving, caring, father. Donald was so thoughtful, tender-hearted and devoted to raising his kids with his same principles of kindness and loving character. He was adamant about instilling in them all the lessons he could teach about life. He always did his absolute best in every way he could and pushed his kids to do the same.

Donald had a heart of gold. He championed others in their lives. He was compassionate, humble, bright, had a great sense of humor, was generous and so fun to be around. He stood out as a great storyteller-albeit longwinded-and a great conversationalist. A collector of knowledge and facts starting at an early age, Don could inform and educate on the obscurest of details on many subjects. Don had great style-he so loved fine cuisine and wines, had a deep love for literature and music, especially jazz, and couldn’t get enough of his Red Sox’s.

Don was known for remembering family and friend’s birthdays and anniversaries, conveying the deep love that he had for all of us with his personal cards or letters or phone calls. Don had the rare capacity to make everyone in his orbit feel special, noticed, unique, and loved.

Don’s later years were spent surrounded by his grandchildren. They became the joy and light of his life. He was an amazing, hands-on and involved grandpa. He would go to every ball game and music concert to cheer them on and fill his grandchildren with an abundance of love.

He met Sue, his loving companion, in February of 2001. They created a beautiful life together filled with love, respect, and a deep bond. They loved to travel together and went on amazing, memorable trips. They shared in common their love for their families, especially their devotion to their grandchildren. He was very special to Sue’s grandchildren and loved them immensely like he did all of his grandkids. Sue gave to Don her strength, dedication, and love, during his time of illness. Day in and day out, she was there by his side taking care of him through to his unexpected but tragic final days. He was very lucky and blessed to have her as his partner in life.

Don was a legendary man who left a special and unique legacy of love for others and his mark on the world, solidifying his mark on so many people’s lives. A friend to everyone he crossed paths with. Donald was an extremely kind soul who always saw the best in everyone, persevered through life’s obstacles with grace and honor. He was always there for everyone, never complained a day in his life, never held resentments or spoke ill about anyone, he was just so sweet and truly a one-of-a-kind special man. He will live in our hearts forever. Heaven must surely have welcomed him.

Services to commemorate Donald will be held on Friday, April 16th at Mount of Olives Church at 24772 Chrisanta Drive, Mission Viejo, CA 92691 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm. Followed by a graveside ceremony on April 16th at 2:00pm at El Toro Memorial Park, 25751 Trabuco Rd, Lake Forest, CA after which a reception will be held at the family’s home in Ladera Ranch.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks to honor Donald by paying it forward with an act of kindness or a nice gesture, since that was who Donald was.
Recent stories
Shared by Charlie Zollo on March 26, 2021
I was just watching a YouTube video of Jackson Browne's Running on Empty and remembered a more that great visit Jane and I had with cousin Don back in 1985.
Jane had flown out to LA to meet me (I was on a business trip) and spend a few days in California. I had been in touch with Don, and he and Kathy invited us to spend a few days at their place in Laguna.  Don and Kathy were great hosts...lots of food, BBQ, we headed out to various clubs, saw some great local bands and then they surprised us with tickets to see Jackson Browne at an Ampitheater south of Laguna. WOW! Well you can imagine being at a Jackson Browne show in 1985 , in Laguna, with Don and Kathy.  We all had a great time.  Back last year when Don got on Facebook we spoke on the phone and chatted back and forth and fondly remembered that trip, plus a few others that I'm still trying to remember!  Don was someone very special.  I'll miss him always. RIP Cousin Don, Jane and I loved you.

More than just a Brother

Shared by Janice Zollo on March 16, 2021
Vince remembers when he was shipped off to CA as an adolescent to get away from bad influences in Connecticut and Don acted as a surrogate father(?) when he picked him up every weekend from cousin Maureen's house to go to some crazy concerts like Frank Zappa, Santana, Little Richard etc. The biggest one was Vanilla Fudge,Credence Clearwater Revival, and Albert King and many more at the Shrine Auditorium. 
We had an amazing cross-country trip with Janice, Betsy and Kathy Kelly(Babe) and me in a 1954 Chrysler New Yorker in 1972. Will never forget driving into San Francisco with Don at the wheel and the brakes were failing! During our visit for Don's 70th birthday he took us to see the places we had been in 1972. We had a magical day with Don that day.                                 Vince says he was more than just a brother to him.
We had more adventures as the years passed. Janice and I love Don dearly, and think of him often with laughter and tears. Janice and Vince