Family trust gives gift to IM, BTS schools

Bouquets and Barbs

Bouquet: Iron Mountain and Breitung Township schools received news this past week of an incredibly generous gift bestowed upon both districts by the John V. and Frances M. Zanardi Family Trust. To illustrate the nature of this donation, it is important to learn about a local family whose quiet, reserved and humble nature provided them with the opportunity to provide a gift that would do what mattered most to them; helping other people and paying it forward.

John and Frances Zanardi lived in Iron Mountain when they started their family. John earned his undergraduate degree from Ferris State University and completed his graduate coursework at the University of Detroit. During his time in Iron Mountain, John opened his private law practice and eventually also served as the Dickinson County prosecutor. Having the same passion for people and education as her husband, Frances earned her degree in business from Ferris State University and hoped to be a teacher. However, plans had changed for this family, and the Zanardis had three children together, whom Frances took care of in the home. All three children graduated from Iron Mountain Schools — John in 1946, Francis in 1951 and Marilyn in 1957.

The oldest son, John, served in the Army, spending time overseas before returning home and graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in business and working for Chicago Northwestern Railroad. After spending time in the National Guard, Francis graduated from Notre Dame with a law degree and eventually returned home and worked with his father in the family’s private law practice. Francis also worked for the Federal Anti-Poverty Program for the State of Michigan, helping others around the state. Marilyn attended Northern Michigan University and earned a degree in biology and chemistry. Marilyn also earned her master’s and Ph.D. in the fields of microbiology and immunology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Marilyn spent the next 51 years teaching at the university level.

It was very evident what values and beliefs were instilled in these children by their parents at a very early age. Faith, family, and community were the pillars by which the Zanardi family built their legacy. Earning your reward through hard work and sharing your reward with others quickly became a family belief. While the entire family shared these beliefs, Francis orchestrated the ultimate demonstration of this belief with his siblings through an incredible gift to the Iron Mountain and Breitung Township school districts.

This gift may be used for example to “endow scholarships for graduating seniors pursuing a post-high school education, to enrich the school’s library resources, to enhance and enable athletic camps and programs, to enhance and enable academic camps and programs, to enhance and enable band camps and programs, to enhance and enable special events such as prom and drama programs, and to enhance the school’s technology (e.g. computers and lab equipment). All such uses shall be at the discretion of the school board or its delegated authorities.”

Iron Mountain School Superintendent Jerry Sardina stated, “What the world around us needs is more people like the Zanardi family who believe strongly in the teaching of love thy neighbor. This family will likely never come in contact with the students whose lives they will be touching, yet they love their community enough to be willing to sacrificially give for the sake of others. With the deepest level of gratitude, the Iron Mountain School District thanks the Zanardi family for making our community a better place.”

Breitung Township Schools Superintendent David Holmes added, “The Breitung Township School District and the students we serve are very fortunate to have been named as a beneficiary of this trust. These funds will enable us to do a great deal that directly benefits students. We will be certain to honor the spirit of the donation and the Zanardi family’s vision to help others. We can’t thank the Zanardi family enough for their generosity and foresight to make a lasting impact on the entire community.”


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