A tree stands tall in the quad at Corcoran High School in the memory of Anthony Zuniga thanks to the efforts of Assemblyman Rudy Salas. A tree dedication and planting ceremony was held Wednesday to honor the former Corcoran High Band Teacher, affectionately known as Mr. Z, who died Aug. 20 at the age of 82. Mr. Z’s family attended the ceremony as well as Corcoran Unified School District staff, board members, and students along with Assemblymember Rudy Salas.
Mr. Z taught Band and Music Appreciation, Life Decisions and Spanish I at Corcoran High School. He also worked with the Migrant Education Program. As band director Mr. Zuniga worked hard to build a program the school and district could be proud of. He managed that by working with band programs from elementary to Junior High and at the high school level. He eventually had a marching band which consisted of 100 members playing instruments. That number did not take into account the flag team. One of the highlights of the school year for the band was to attend the East West Shrine game in San Francisco. He retired from teaching after 25 years.
Mr. Z’s zest for life and music is unparalleled. He not only worked as the office manager for 20 years at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Corcoran he also led the choir. He was a so devoted to the church that he was very active in many church activities including fundraisers, putting trees up for the holidays, teaching religious education classes and he even assisted at the Alpaugh parish.
Prior to his death in Aug. Mr. Z was able to fulfill his final bucket list item of singing with the Fresno master Chorale for two years. Last year he went to Spain with the Chorale and he said being able to perform with them was a life dream which he was proud to have accomplished.
Anthony was so committed to music that CUSD’s Board of Trustees President Bobby Toney said of the recently planted tree, “The way Anthony was with music don’t be surprised if it makes music.”
As part of his efforts to honor Mr. Zuniga with the tree ceremony, Assemblyman Rudy Salas recognized Anthony by telling his story.
“Today we come together as a community to honor the memory of Anthony John Zuniga, a beloved Corcoran leader and educator,” said Assemblymember Rudy Salas. “The positive impact that he had on the lives of so many students will continue to be heard in their music. In planting this tree in his memory, it is a testament to his commitment to Corcoran and its families, and serves as a reminder of his great passion for music and education that will live on for generations.”
Assemblyman Salas was also responsible for securing the tree from Tree Fresno, who donated the Keith Davey Chinese Pistache tree as part of a grant from PG&E.
“I want to thank Assemblyman Salas for honoring one of Corcoran’s finest and for keeping the Zuniga family in mind for this dedication,” said Kings County District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle.
Mr. Zuniga’s son, Kris addressed those who attended the ceremony.
“This means a lot to my mom and our family. Dad loved plants and he would sit out back underneath the tree so this is perfect,” he added.
Family was very important to Mr. Z. He cherished spending time with his grandchildren during the holiday season, putting the tree up and making sure each light outside was perfect. He also enjoyed his dog Holly, the many days sitting out under the tree in his yard. He loved planting his flowers every season. He especially loved to go over to his sister Mary’s house to have lunch with her.
Anthony was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, mentor and friend. Above all He loved his God. He was very devoted during his lifetime to the church. Anthony was funny, loving and kind. He was also a wonderful Godfather. He took that job very seriously. Always making time for questions or uplifting. We will all miss Anthony and remember what a great example he was and what a wonderful man he was. His accomplishments were out of this world. But mostly he will be remembered by family and friends for his love and kindness.
Anthony is survived by his wife, JoAnn; son Mark and wife Claudia, son Kris and wife Kelly and son Kenan and Fiancé Louise; his siblings, Mary Moreno, Carmen Alberts and Gerald; 7 grandchildren Kaila, Kimberlee, Kristen, Kendra, Rian, Delaney and Greyson; five great-grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.
In addition to Assemblyman Salas, also recognized for their part in the tree ceremony were CUSD Superintendent Rich Merlo, Lee Ayers of Tree Fresno, Dameane Douglas Office of Assemblyman Rudy Salas, Richard Valle Kings County District 2 Supervisor, Marty Raeber MOT Director for CUSD, Mark Burden CUSD Grounds Maintenance, Javier Cervantes CHS Custodian, CHS ASB and advisor Kellen Ornellas, CHS band director Chad McCoy, CHS ROTC Color Guard and Lt. Col. Rudy Cardona, CHS Principal Antonia Stone, Rogelio Caudillo from the office of Senator Andy Vidak and Jake Mizner from the office of Congressman David Valadao.
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