Mildred Arlene (McEuen) Zottola died July 24, 2023. She was 91.
She was born in Grants Pass on November 1, 1931, to Beulah Vista (Miller) and Thomas Oliver McEuen. She lived her entire life in Grants Pass, except for two lengthy stays during her middle school and high school years when she was treated for scoliosis at Doernbecher Hospital in Portland.
She graduated from Grants Pass High School in 1950. While she was working as an usherette and ticket office person at the Rogue Theater, she met Palmer Zottola, and in June of 1951 they were married. They were married 67 years.
Mildred was a direct descendant of the Savage family that settled along the Rogue River in 1853, and throughout her life she personified an inherent pioneer spirit. She was perseverant, diligent, and determined, facing adversities beyond the norm, battling first through her scoliosis then through devastating long-term illnesses suffered by two of her children.
As a consummate homemaker, she also developed the pioneer skills needed to provide food, clothing, comfort, and guidance for her family. She was a fine cook, often preparing meals for large groups, and her baking and cake decorating skills were rewarding—for all of us.
She patiently and compassionately, with an internal strength and firm hand as necessary, ran the household as it filled with kids, a gaggle often increased twice the family size by the neighborhood kids who ran freely through the yard and house as well. She invited into her home five foreign exchange students who quickly became comfortable in their new community, schools, and family.
She was an excellent seamstress. She sewed many of the day to day clothes for her children, specialty garments like First Communion and Prom dresses, sports coats and dress shirts, and ornate baton twirling costumes and her daughter Verna’s wedding dress. She also knitted sweaters and gloves and crocheted afghans. She was an accomplished quilter, deftly using otherwise discarded scraps of cloth to make attractive and functional quilts for the members of her family, for gifts to friends, and for Christmas Bazaar raffles.
She provided a foundation of support for her husband and children. When Palmer left a salaried position in 1970 to establish his own business (Valley of the Rogue Dairy), a financially challenging risk at that time, she not only encouraged him constantly and helped sustain his confidence in the early years building the business to a profitable endeavor, she did some of the bookkeeping work for the business.
She likewise supported wholeheartedly all her children and grandchildren in their many activities by attending school athletic contests, baton competitions, music and dance recitals, graduation ceremonies, weddings, and births. In addition, she volunteered for Red Cross Blood Drives, participated in the Altar Society at St Anne Catholic Church, and served as a teacher assistant at St Anne School.
She loved her family dearly, delighted in them all, and did all in her power to help guide each and every one to being a good person. It was a deeply committed love that sometimes stirred the firm convictions she had for right and wrong and compelled her to speak out to clarify expectations.
Mildred Zottola is one epitome of the extraordinary women who live selfless though perhaps ordinary lives caring for their families, contributing to a community ethos of good, of morality, and of integrity, and striving to make all feel valued, capable, important, and loved.
Mildred was preceded in death by her parents and brothers and sisters, her husband Palmer, her daughter Verna Marie (Zottola) Scott, and her son Robert Patrick Zottola.
She is survived by her sons Martin, Palmer Andrew (Debbie), and Thomas Anthony (Penny), her daughter Mikki Baguio (Joe), daughter-in-law Susan (d. Robert), son-in-law Randy Scott (d. Verna [Brenda]), 14 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.
It’s difficult to impress upon an outsider the immense positive influence Mom had on all with whom she interacted. She managed her family with aplomb, a necessary firmness, and patience beyond imagination, especially in the 50s when she had four children within a five year time-span. It is also difficult to adequately describe and share—though it is both a key factor and admirable character trait—that she had a sometimes wickedly incisive sense of humor which she wielded artistically to ensure no one overrated their individual importance in the grand schemes of family, community, life.
Hers was a life well lived, one in devoted service to her family and to all with whom she interacted, and her pioneer genes still bolster the branches of her family members, and her roots running deep in the Rogue Valley remain as sturdy as an old growth Redwood.
A Catholic celebration of life Mass will be held at St Anne Church in Grants Pass on Saturday, August 12th at 11:00, with a reception after in the Parish Center, and a private mausoleum entombment at Hawthorne Memorial Gardens to follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages and appreciates donations to St Anne Catholic School, 1131 NE 10th Street, Grants Pass, OR 97526; or The Zottola Family Scholarship (make note on memo line) through the Redwood Foundation for Education, PO Box 1598, Grants Pass, OR, 97528.