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Martin John Zaninovich


08/07/1923 - 12/09/2014 Obituary
Martin J. Zaninovich, respected Delano grape grower and shipper, dedicated family man, and another proud member of the "Greatest Generation" passed away peacefully on December 9, at the age of 91.
He was born at home in Dinuba, California to Mary and John Zaninovich and raised with his four siblings in Porterville on the family ranch where they moved shortly after his birth. His Croatian parents immigrated to America, attained citizenship, worked to build a farming business, and instilled in their children the value of hard work, the importance of education, and the love and appreciation for the greatness and blessings of America.
Martin was schooled in Porterville, entered the University of Southern California, but his college time was interrupted when he was called into military duty, serving with the United States Army. He was stationed in Okinawa during World War II where he served until he was honorably discharged in 1946.
Together with his cousin Vincent M. Zaninovich, he founded Jasmine Vineyards in 1947 in the Delano area. They developed the business into one of the San Joaquin Valley's premier grape growing companies, one beloved by all who worked with and for the company. The company is run today by his son Jon, and Vincent's three sons, the generational succession of which he remained so very proud. It was a basic tenant of Martin to always be fair and to always give back. He was forever humble about his responsibility in helping to shape and change the face of the industry.
He was an active leader in the table grape and agricultural industry at large throughout his life. His father's humble beginnings and admonition to "First do, then talk" shaped Martin's beautiful mind and spirit. Martin was one of three founders of The South Central Farmers Committee, where he co-authored the Ketchum Act which made way in Congress for the California Table Grape Commission; an invaluable member and past chair of the California Fresh Fruit Association; Delano Grape Growers Products, all organizations where he received countless awards and recognition for his thoughtful contributions. His community involvement with the Mercy Hospital Board, founding member of California State University Bakersfield, original member of the Bakersfield Country Club - a few of the organizations close to his heart - all benefitted from this true gentleman's unselfish involvement.
On December 10, 1950 he married Margaret Surjak, and just one day shy of their 64th wedding anniversary, enjoyed a life together, a partnership, a love, that is of the rarest of
breeds. Margaret was his world, and he always acknowledged her as the one true boss. After 61 years of living in their original Delano house, they moved in with their daughter Katina in Santa Barbara, to receive the greatest of care and assistance, something seldom
seen today. Katina, together with the loving in-home help of the Angeles sisters and their extended family, made the golden years even brighter.
Martin's optimism, pragmatism, proud American patriotism and Conservatism were his hallmarks. His offspring can only hope to forever honor him by keeping his values alive.
He is survived by Margaret, and children Katina Etsell, Sonya Cesari (Paul), and Jon P. Zaninovich; four adored grandchildren, John and Katharine Etsell, and Eleni and Sophia Zaninovich; his trusted sister Winifred Pandol, and sister-in-law Audrey Zaninovich, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, December 15th at 11:00 AM, San Roque Catholic Church, 3200 Calle Cedro, Santa Barbara, 93105. He will be interred in a private ceremony at Delano McFarland District Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The California Table Grape Field Workers Scholarship Program, 392 West Fallbrook Avenue, #101, Fresno, California 93711-6150.

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Published in Bakersfield Californian from Dec. 11 to Dec. 14, 2014
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