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Esther H. Zack


1946 - 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Esther H. Zack Obituary
August 24, 1946 - January 24, 2018 Esther H. Zack, educator, naturalist, generous and care-giving daughter, sister, and aunt, passed away January 24th at her home in Westlake Village, surrounded by family and life-long friends, after a brief battle with cancer.
Born in Painesville, Ohio, to Frank V. Zack, electrician and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Helen C. Zack, homemaker and retail worker, August 24, 1946, Esther graduated Riverside High School with honors and journeyed to California to join three sisters who were living in Ventura and Los Angeles. She received her A.A. degree from Ventura Community College and transferred to University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.A. degree, also with honors. Esther then moved to Detroit, MI, for her post- graduate degree in Education.
Returning to California, she began her 38 year career with Los Angeles Unified School District, working in elementary education until she left the classroom to join Target Science/Los Angeles Educational Partnership, where she created materials and conducted science-related professional development workshops for teachers in the district for 10 years. Among her many contributions during that time, she participated in the UCLA Science Project on the ecology and preservation of the Palos Verdes Blue butterfly, and produced lesson plans on the Los Angeles River's history and development. Esther's final teaching years were again in the classroom, at Sutter Middle School in Canoga Park, where her passion for hands-on learning and dedication to her students were rewarded at the end of each school year by dozens of hand-written notes of gratitude from her students for the eagerness to learn and success that she inspired.
Always curious and a life-long learner, Esther loved and respected nature (even rescuing spiders trapped indoors!). A Topanga Canyon docent in the Santa Monica mountains for many years, she led group tours through several of the Mountains' parks, introducing people to native flora and fauna, and describing how important they were in preserving the local environment. During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Esther joined the Olympic docents for the William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom leading tours for visitors to California. An avid birder, during the summer months Esther participated in several Earthwatch working tours, tagging and researching endangered native birds in Hawaii, as well as clearing invasive plant species on Hawaii parklands. In Costa Rica, second only to Hawaii in Esther's favorite locales, she worked with UC Berkeley (UREP) Conservation Biology Field Course, researching and compiling statistics on endangered native rain forest birds.
Esther's love of adventure and travel began after her college graduation with a tour of several European countries. Since then she toured Central and South American countries, joined a photo safari in Africa, but always returned to her favorite, Hawaii, bringing along sisters and friends to experience the beauty of the islands.
Her first priority was always family, mom and dad and four sisters, and she chose to retire when her mother became ill and she wanted to help with her in-home care. Soon after, she also helped with the care of her sister Catherine, until she passed away in 2009. She was like a second-mom to her nieces and nephews, assisting and encouraging them as they grew from toddlers to adults. If it's possible to be generous to a fault, that was Esther, with her time, resources, knowledge, help in her community, and her parish, St. Jude's Catholic Church in Westlake Village, where she was one of the leaders in her bible study group. Her faith was a vital part of her identity. She had a strong sense of justice, both social and political, and contributed to many charitable causes. She joined the Women's March in Los Angeles, and wanted to join the March for Science, but was prevented by her illness.
There is much more that could be written about Esther, but her family and friends already know, and will hold her in their hearts forever. Her energetic and giving spirit touched us all and made us better persons. Memories of her support, friendship, and bright smile will continue to inspire and uplift us.
Esther is survived by her sister Dorothy Rice and children Laura Pullin, Dena Rice, David Rice (wife Helena Goldsmith); sister Theresa Godwin and children Tani Fisher (husband Michael), Liat Pardini (husband Brian); sister Mary Ellen "Kitty" Lucero and children Dana Lucero and Andrew Lucero (wife Kimberly), as well as grandnieces Carly and Sidney Pullin, and grandnephews Derrick and Nicholas Fisher.
The funeral Mass for Esther H. Zack, will be held on Saturday, February 10, at 12:00 noon at St. Jude's Catholic Church, 32032 Lindero Canyon, Westlake Village, and the rosary service will be the evening of Friday, February 9, at 7:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in her name to: Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org); The Nature Conservancy (for Hawaii, www.nature.org); National Parks Conservation Association (www.npca.org); Union of Concerned Scientists (www.ucsusa.org); or The American Red Cross (www.redcross.org).
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 2, 2018
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