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James W. Zanoli

James Wilfred Zanoli, 81, died peacefully Monday, April 22, 2013, surrounded by his entire family.  Born in February 1932 to Wilfred Zanoli and Harriet (Wright) Zanoli, he and his sister, Ann, were raised in San Luis Obispo and attended Mission School, where he met and later married the love of his life, Betty Berkemeyer. They were married for 60 years.   Jim was a three sport letterman at Mission High School and earned "Most Valuable Athlete" in 1950.  In 1947, Jim began to play for the San Luis Blues. He continued as a player, as well as manager, for the club for the last 11 seasons - he retired in 1971 with a life-time batting average "over 300."  He attended Cal Poly from 1951 to 1955 and earned his bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts. He also lettered in football and baseball.  Although drafted by the New York Yankees in 1951, Jim opted for a teaching credential during the years of the Korean Conflict.  He began to teach in 1956 at San Luis High School and remained there for 30 years - he retired in 1987.  Jim started coaching at San Luis High in 1956 as the head Freshman Baseball Coach and Assistant JV Football Coach. In 1963, he became San Luis High's first Freshman Football Coach. They went undefeated in his first two seasons.   In 1965, he moved up to head the JV Football and Varsity Baseball programs, where they earned four league titles in five years.  In 1967, Jim advanced to the San Luis High Varsity Football program and was the Head Coach from 1968 to 1971. In 1968, San Luis High hustled its first ever CIF "AA" Championship. Jim was honored as the 1969 "Coach Of The Year" by the SCCIF for that winning 1968 season. In 2004, Jim was inducted into the San Luis High School "Hall of Fame" for his accomplishments in both teaching and coaching.  After he retired from coaching, Jim enjoyed hitting the open road in his travel trailer with family and friends to countless destinations in the US and Canada.   He was an avid golfer (a big hitter!) and fisherman, and enjoyed many seasons of ocean-run salmon in his boat "the Triple Threat," along with fly fishing adventures throughout the North West.  He was a die-hard fan of youth and high school athletics, and never missed one of his grandkids' games, whether it was football, baseball, soccer, softball, water polo, diving, rugby or track. An eternal fan of The New York Yankees, San Francisco 49ers and Notre Dame football, he was a member of the Elks Lodge 322, San Luis High Black & Gold and Grid Iron Clubs and the Atascadero and San Luis Bay Men's Golf Clubs.  Jim is survived by wife, Betty; three children Charles Zanoli (Helen), Laurie  Smoot (Sherman) and Kathy Branco (Steve); eight grandchildren Jimmy Zanoli  (Shelly), Carly Smoot and Thomas, Emily, Sarah, Lukas and James Zanoli; sister, Anne (George) Martines; and many nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Wilfred and Harriet Zanoli; aunt and uncle Jess and Mary (Taylor) Zanoli; and niece, Rosalynn Sites Martines.  A Mass will be celebrated for Jim at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at the Old Mission San Luis Obispo, with reception to follow at the Madonna Inn.  If you would like to make a donation, the family suggests the San Luis High Grid Iron Club, "In Memory of Jim Zanoli," P.O. Box 14023, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.  


Published in San Luis Obispo Tribune from Apr. 27 to May 1, 2013
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