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Juan de Zengotita

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Juan de Zengotita 1914 - 2008 MANCHESTER Juan de Zengotita, 94, a retired Foreign Service officer, formerly of Duxbury, Mass., died Sept. 3, 2008, at Equinox Terrace assisted living center in Manchester Center, Vt. Mr. de Zengotita was born in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1914. Of Basque and Irish ancestry, he spent his early years in Puerto Rico, his father's birthplace. Returning to Philadelphia after his father's death, he attended Girard College, a private philanthropic boarding school for orphaned boys. He graduated in 1932 and worked as a stenographer before receiving a scholarship to Columbia University. At Columbia he worked in the cafeteria and boxed on the varsity team, graduating in 1938. After a brief stint at Columbia Law School, his interest in international politics led him to sit for the Foreign Service Exam. His marriage to Barbara Thomas of Cambridge, Mass., took place in 1941, on the eve of their departure to his first diplomatic appointment at the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Mr. de Zengotita had a number of appointments in Latin countries: Mexico City; Bogotá and Cúcuta, Columbia; La Paz, Bolivia; and Caracas, Venezuela as well as a second appointment to Havana in 1954. He also held posts at embassies in England and Australia and served as the American Consul General of Yokahama, Japan, from 1959 to 1963. After his retirement from the State Department in 1969, Mr. de Zengotita settled in Duxbury, Mass. at his wife's family home. There he indulged his appreciation for the natural world by bird watching, gardening, beach combing, star-gazing and befriending neighborhood pets and their young owners. He pursued his lifelong interest in fostering understanding between the United States and other nations by study, lecturing and travel. He continued to travel, visiting France and Russia with his wife, exercising his linguistic skills, having learned both those languages and also Japanese in the course of his career. Continuing an active and adventurous life in retirement, he and his wife toured the United States in a mini-van, camping out, sightseeing and visiting friends for much of 1973 and he undertook extensive bicycle tours in the United States and Canada. Along with his continuing professional interests, he enjoyed tennis, bicycling, swimming and jogging, remaining athletic well into his eighties, and active into his nineties. He was a knowledgeable theatre enthusiast and film buff, attending performances with his wife and friends, and later with his children. Moving to Vermont in 2005 after his wife''s passing, he remained an avid reader, particularly in history and foreign relations, until just a month before his death. He leaves his four children, Thomas of Brooklyn, N.Y., Barbara of Cambridge, Mass., Katharine of Medford, Mass., Clare of Manchester Center, Vt.; and four grandchildren. In appreciation of the pleasure and service that Mark Skinner Library provided in his final years, the family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to Mark Skinner Library c/o BREWSTER FUNERAL SERVICE PO Box 885 Manchester, VT 05255. FUNERAL NOTICE: A family burial service will take place in Duxbury, Massachusetts at a later date.
Published in Bennington Banner on Sept. 6, 2008
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