The Obit For Joe Zahn

Joseph (Joe) Anthony Zahn Jr.
July 6, 1935 - April 6, 2012

Published in Des Moines Register on April 9, 2012

The crowd cheers as he slides into home plate with the winning run! Smoking Joe is moving up to the big leagues and will pitch in the 2012 lineup with Heavens Team of Angels.

Coach has given Joe some of the best plays of this season. The simple ones with his home team were his best; the kids graduating from HS and then college, attending their weddings and his own, then the grand kids....another generation of younger players to mentor. He would have loved to play the game that he loved for a few more years, sharing time with the one who loved him dearly, and walking another down the aisle to give her away. Coach couldn't be swayed. He needed Joe sooner for a bigger and better team. That's the paradox of baseball, his home team wasn't ready to say goodbye or let him go, but when it's an opportunity this big, to play on Heavens Team of Angels, well, making it to the big leagues is every baseball players dream.

When he grew tired in the bottom of the 8th inning, Coach said it was time to come out and rest. His home team pleaded with Coach to let him play a few more innings, to finish the game. But Coach had allowed Joe all the extra innings he could, and they knew it was time for Joe to rest. Coach needed him on Heavens Team now, so reluctantly they agreed to say thanks, great job, and rest well. They knew his legacy would live on, his impact had been made, and that this player would never just be "recalled" but would always be remembered.

Baseball was his life....Engineering was his job, retiring in 1997 from Fairtron Corporation to enjoy his other favorite past times...riding his motorcycle, tinkering with his Fiat Spider, playing golf in the Brothers Tournaments, and the Senior League, and so much more. His favorite time of the year was Spring...watching the world come back to life. Being an early riser, sitting on the back patio, sipping a cup of mocha while the sun came up, watching the wildlife, and relaxing in the garden sanctuary that he and his wife created together.

Joe grew up on the South side of Des Moines, attended Lincoln HS, and later received the first ever baseball scholarship to Simpson College, and was inducted into the Simpson Baseball Hall of Fame. One of several brothers who excelled in baseball, Joe played AA and AAA baseball, pitching for the Lancaster Roses in Pennsylvania and the Winnachi Chiefs in Washington from 1959 to 1963 as part of the Chicago Cubs organization. At the age of 45, he played semi-pro baseball for the Slater Nite Hawks.

Joe will be missed by his loving wife, Sharon Evans-Zahn; sons, David (Dana) Zahn of Johnston, Dan (Nicole) Zahn of Clive; daughters, Cassie (Len Strandley) Bakovia of Auburn, WA, Trista (Rich Carroll) Evans of Des Moines: and six grandchildren, Pilar and Christa Scavo, Allison and Reagan Zahn, and Maxwell and Carter Zahn; brothers, John (Mona) Zahn of Webster City, Jim (Cheryl) Zahn of Norwalk, Chris (Choon Bee) of Bloomington, MN. He was preceded in death by parents, Joseph and Esula Zahn, brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Barbara Zahn and niece, Kimberly.

A Celebration of Joe's life will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at Iles Funeral Homes-Westover Chapel. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at Westover Chapel. Memorial contributions may be made to Furry Friends Refuge in West Des Moines. Online condolences will be welcomed at

A special thank you to Joe's Mercy Hospital family. Thank you for your care and compassion and for the miracle of Joe.