Stephen Wendell Zakaski, 71 of Dunbar, departed this earth on December 31, 2019, at Thomas Memorial Hospital following a brief illness.
Preceding him in death are his parents: Roman and Edna Zakaski, and brother-in law Archie Cook. Surviving is his sister Sandra Jo Cook of Cross Lanes; niece Deborah Rogers of Hurricane; nephew Brian Cook of Palm City, FL. Also are his great nephews & niece: Jordan Rogers of Charleston; Caleb, Camden and Alexis of Palm City. Steve was a graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School in 1966. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Morris Harvey College in 1970. He obtained his Master’s Degree from the University of Miami. He began his teaching career in Miami, FL in September 1970, at Ada Merritt Community School in Little Havana. After returning to WV, he was employed by the Jackson County Board of Education and worked at Ravenswood High School before transferring to Ripley High School. He taught ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages); Spanish, English, Theater Arts & more. Before medically being forced to retire, he switched to being a Special Education teacher, which he found most rewarding. Steve was voted Jackson County Adolescent Teacher of the Year in 1987-88; Ripley High Teacher of the Year 2002-2003 and Hometown Hero, May 2004, among other various acknowledgements. He was also a host parent of Foreign Exchange student, Peter of Germany.
Steve was well loved by all students and known to them as Mr. Z. Many of his previous Drama class students kept in touch, well after leaving his class.
Hobbies included art, reading and always further learning in many subjects. He spent years volunteering at Meadowbrook Nursing home and in the Jackson County community. Steve will be remembered as a person who always strived for higher learning, patient teacher, easy going smile & laugh, and being witty. The students in class have referred to him as being a mentor; always going the extra mile for them or encouraged them to become a teacher. Visitation with the family will be on Monday January 13, 2020 from 6pm to 8pm at Long & Fisher Funeral Home. Funeral service will be on Tuesday January 14, 2020 at 11:00 am at Long & Fisher Funeral Home. Online condolences may be forwarded to longfisherfuneralhome.com.