ForeverMissed
Stories

Share a special moment from Zander's life.

Shared by Shannon Onders on February 22, 2021
Whether it was Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, sitting with Zander at the holidays for meals was always a pleasure. He always had fun stories to share and never failed to ask about everyone else’s lives. As Molly mentioned, Zander was involved in lifeteen at St. Basil and was a great role model for us to follow. I was lucky enough to walk into lifeteen and be recognized as Zander’s cousin after he had graduated high school and had moved on, as his legacy in the program was not forgotten because people had loved him so much. Other memories with Zander include the times where Molly and I would babysit his siblings while his parents were out, and he was working. When he would get home before his parents, he never rushed us out, but instead sat down and chatted with us for awhile while his siblings were fast asleep. Zander was a great role model for me, and many other people and his kindness will never be forgotten. Thank you, Zander, for the conversations and laughs shared with me and many others throughout your life.
Shared by Aaron Muttillo on February 22, 2021
When I was in graduate school training to be a school psychologist, I needed to practice giving tests. Of course, I recruited Z because he was up for anything. I believe he was about 7 when I gave him an IQ test. I remember that I had to record the assessment and submit it for a grade, which raised the stakes a bit. I was poorly prepared and kept screwing up the different subtests. Z was so entertained by my mishaps, he would just laugh at me and patiently wait for me to rewind the tape and start over. It probably took us about 3 hours to complete the test, because I was terrible as an assessor and he was super smart. As is the case with most of these tests, the more questions you answer correctly, the more questions I ask. I only studied the first parts of each subtest, so since he kept getting everything right I was always in unchartered territory as a new assessor. I remember thinking, “damn it please get this wrong so we can stop “. Z was just enjoying the experience - dominating this test and watching his uncle flail around like an idiot. Z taught me a couple of lessons that day, be prepared before you start administering a test and stay away from the gifted kids because they’ll make you look stupid! Love you, Z.

A Natural with Kids

Shared by Aaron Muttillo on February 22, 2021
    When Zander was born I became an uncle for the first time. When he learned to talk and started calling me “Uncle Aaron”, I thought it was the coolest thing. Reading Harry Potter to him was always an adventure, as I would change all names of the characters (e.g., “Dumbledork”) to mess with him. He would just politely correct me as he was unfazed by my nonsense. Zander was the easiest kid to babysit for because he was so helpful and genuinely fun to be around. 
    Zander was always a very accepting, non-judgmental person. I don’t ever recall feeling anxious or awkward with him, everything was always comfortable.  His calming presence made him a natural for working with kids. Z worked as a counselor at Camp Christopher and later helped my family out when we needed childcare for one of my children.  
   Zander was only 18 (same age as I was when he was born) when he provided childcare for his cousin, Quentin. We needed him to drive from Brecksville to Lakewood to pick up his 4-year-old cousin from preschool and then take him home to our house in Cleveland and watch him until Emily or I got home with our other two kids.  This was a lot to ask anyone, particularly an 18 year old. I know that when I was that age, I wouldn’t have been able to even figure out the car seat. Not only was there never a problem, he seemed very matter of fact with the whole arrangement. When we frantically arrived home, he would just smile, shrug his shoulders, and tell us everything’s cool. Here I was “Uncle Aaron” struggling to figure out family life and my young nephew was the reliable presence that we needed at just the right time. It was a gift to my family that we’ll never forget. Love you, Z. 
Shared by Autumn Onders on February 17, 2021
Zander volunteered at the Cleveland Foodbank with me monthly for a few years beginning when he turned 12. These Wed evenings were special mother-son times for us. No matter what else was happening, Zander was always cheerful as we sorted food. A smile on his face and a pleasant word for anyone nearby. He seemed to delighted to be able to help others and just happy to be here. 
Shared by Autumn Onders on February 17, 2021
Zander struggled with high school. Despite being in the "gifted" program since 2nd grade, his grades plummeted. It was a challenge for him to complete his assignments. When completed, it was a challenge to turn them in. Sometimes, just going to school was a challenge. This was Depression rearing its ugly head, although it would be years before anyone suggested that word to us. We decided to move him to a virtual high school for his senior year. With his stress lowered, Zander went from a moody, secretive teen to a smiling, relaxed, fun-loving, young man whom it was a pleasure to be around. I treasure that low-stress year I had with him at home with his siblings. Only he truly knew what effort it took for him to complete high school, but this proud mama made him some really embarassing shirts to celebrate his victory.    
Shared by Dan Bender on February 15, 2021
I got to know Zander during his high school days since I was a young adult volunteer in his Youth Ministry Program at St. Basil's.  I recall him as a very bright young man who had a good group of friends.  He spoke at our retreats and I was impressed his spirituality.  Zander also had some amazing hair!  I will pray for the repose of his soul and ask God's blessing on the friends and family who morn his loss.  
Shared by Tommy Dome on February 15, 2021
I was the Youth Minister at Zander's Catholic Church during his high school years and Zander was very involved.  Zander was just the kind of high schooler we wanted to be part of the program - well-rounded, cheerful, goofy, but also inquisitive, deep, and faithful.  Zander had that wide range that made him a leader other young people looked up to.  He was always willing to volunteer to help out.  We shared many laughs and many powerful spiritual moments.  We love Zander and God loves Zander.  He made my life better.  
Shared by Mary Pramik on February 14, 2021
In reading the stories and tributes of Zander, it is no surprise how many people’s lives Zander touched in his short time here with us. He was so kindhearted and was always welcoming to others. Zander was a quiet person, until you got him alone in a room. I remember several occasions, at family gatherings chatting with him in a separate room, he would share what he was doing and talked with such confidence, so well spoken. Looking at the pictures posted, so many memories came flowing back, his love for reading and books, spending time with his younger siblings and his time with his cousins. His memories will live forever in us.  When Zander became a father, I watched him from a distance on holidays, it was evident that he knew how to take care of Brysen, he had a great example set by his own parents. You will be missed by many, until we meet again, rest in peace Zander. 

Zander

Shared by Sue Metro on February 11, 2021
Our fondest memories of Zander are when he stayed with us in the vineyards. Always willing to help wherever he was needed. After working a trip to our favorite mexican restaurant to share shrimp & cold strawberry Margaritas ( non alcoholic of course). Back to the trailer where we played cards & laughed for hours. When I see the twinkle in his son's eyes and the smile on his face, I know Z is with us still. We are so very proud to have shared the happiest day of Zander's life when his son Brysen was born. Our Good Lord felt your pain Zander & called you home  to join Him in peace. So keep the cards shuffled, shrimp hot, strawberry Margaritas cold until the Good Lord willing we can be together again. We love you always & keep you in our hearts. God bless & rest in peace our beautiful grandson Zander. Papa and grandma
Shared by Autumn Onders on February 11, 2021
Even as an adult, Zander was always willing to play with his siblings or his son. Sometimes that meant board games, sometimes making slime, & sometimes even a little Twister. His playfulness will be missed.
Shared by Molly Onders on February 10, 2021
Zander and I did Lifeteen together for 2 years at St. Basil’s. I remember that it was so cool for me to have him as an older cousin who was already so well known and loved by so many people. When I first started going, I was being introduced as “Zander’s cousin,” and every reaction to that was overwhelming. People loved him, and I was just lucky enough to gain some automatic friends because of him. From then on, we only greeted each other as “cousin,” no first names. Super creative. We quickly realized that calling each other “cousin” only worked in a setting where we were the only relatives, it didn’t quite work on holidays where all 30 of us were together. Zander would always have something interesting to share to make the conversation entertaining, he made people laugh, and he was incredible at making others feel included. So Cousin, thank you for sharing your wisdom, your friends, and your time with me and with all of us.
Shared by Nicole Clymer on February 9, 2021
I met Zander when he was pretty young however, I remember instantly noticing how observant, intuitive and thoughtful he was for a child. An "old soul".  Zander developed a quick wit with a great sense of humor. We definitely shared some great conversations and laughs at family events. I appreciated his kind and welcoming demeanor especially. I cannot tell you all how often he helped me break my cold awkwardness with his warm smile and willingness to sit and chat with me. Zander will forever encourage and inspire me to extend a hello, to smile, to be more thoughtful, welcoming and kind. 


Shared by Meg Clymer on February 9, 2021
Man, this kid loved to read. Even though I was only 3ish years older than him, I have many memories from "babysitting" Zander, and him helping me watch his younger siblings too. He was always willing to lend a hand, keep me company (even though I know all he really wanted to do was run up to his room and read Harry Potter), and was never hesitant to chat it up. I will always remember his love for Harry Potter and his genuine passion for books in general. I can't tell you how many times I remember thinking, wow this kid is smart. I was always so impressed. Zander was such a sweet, genuine human; He had a kind soul, and any time I got to talk with him over the years, that always shined through. Remembering you, Zander <3

Sending you love, strength and peace, Aunt Autumn, Uncle Mark, Xavier, Eli, Cassie, Toby and Brysen. 
Shared by Helen Clymer on February 9, 2021
Well, after reading Zach's memory, I guess I should apologize to Mark and Autumn:  Apparently I should have been keeping a closer eye on those boys!!!
There are so many things I remember about Zander, but what I will always cherish the most is his smile.  Whether I was picking him up from school, watching him play the Cello, taking him to dinner before his confirmation retreat, or finding him walking along Brecksville road on his way to work, It was always a pleasure to talk with him and he always had a smile to share. There was never complaining, only joy.   He once even let me cut some of his lucious locks when he came over to the Clymer Barber shop.  I can't even imagine the magnificence of his smile and the glow on his face as he sees his Jesus face to face.  Till we meet again .....
Shared by Zach Onders on February 9, 2021
Even though Zander was only a day older, he was always years ahead of me in knowledge, which he was always quick to share with me. My fondest example of this was on one of our many sleepovers. After hours of playing Call of Duty on the Wii, long after Mom and Dad had went to bed, Zander excitedly unpacked his sleeping bag. It was a little confusing because we had an unspoken competition to see who would be the first to break and call it a night, so to see him so eagerly getting ready to go to sleep was odd. And then 13 year old Zander whipped out 3 Miller lights from his rolled up sleeping bag. I had never drank a full beer before and Zander said he had tried one by himself but that he thought we could share my first beer together. They were the best beers you could get, he informed me. After all, that’s what both our dads drank and these were freshly acquired from his dads mini fridge
(sorry Uncle Mark). Zander had assured me that one and a half beers should be enough to get us drunk, but after we both finished our first, we agreed it tasted like pee and decided the final one would be better off buried behind the barn, along with our empties so that no one would find out. We then resorted to our normal vice of candy and soda and talked long into the night about how grown ups are kinda dumb for drinking that stuff all the time.
This ones for you though, Z. Cheers
Shared by Mark Onders on February 9, 2021
I remember many years of coaching Zander's soccer teams, Autumn would be the team manager and I would coach. We played in the recreational leagues with a really nice group of boys. We didn't win many games, but they had fun.
Shared by Autumn Onders on February 9, 2021
I remember going to pick up a young Zander from PSR one day and he came out long after all the other students had left. When I asked him why, he told me that some of the kids had made his teacher cry and he stayed after to talk to her. In a similar situation, I went to pick up teenage Zander from a LifeTeen retreat. All of the teens were greeting family members and sitting down to eat the closing dinner; but Zander was nowhere to be found. He was discovered on the grounds. He said his friend really needed to talk away from the crowded hall. . . That was Zander -- always ready to listen and offer a comforting word.
Shared by Autumn Onders on February 9, 2021
Even at a young age, Zander loved books. He was excited to receive new ones and enjoyed re-reading old favorites. Fantasy books were his favorite and I think he always hoped to get a letter from Hogwarts ;-) No matter where he went, he always brought some books along with him. His love of reading never waned.

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