OBITUARY

Donald Lee Vanzo

August 13, 1946April 29, 2021
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Donald Lee Vanzo passed away on Thursday April 29, 2021. He was born on August 13, 1946 to Alfred and Leonora Vanzo of Lakewood, Colorado. He was the youngest of three children.

Donald attended Lakewood Grade, Junior and High Schools. He played football for the Lakewood Tigers in his school years under Coach Hancock. The team won the Rocky Mountain Championship in 1965. He attended college at Western State in Gunnison, Colorado where he graduated with a degree in teaching. After graduating college, he taught at various schools teaching Social Studies. He also coached football and wrestling.

Donald was preceded in his death by his parents and his older sister Louise M. Reif. He is survived by his older brother Vernon F. Vanzo of Lakewood, Colorado. Don is also survived by 3 nieces, 1 nephew, 5 great nieces and 1 great nephew.

Visitation will be held at Olinger Crown Hill Ponderosa Room on Thursday, May 13, 2021 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at Olinger Crown Hill on Friday May 14, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. in the Pavilion of Reflection.

  • PALLBEARERS

  • Michael Reif
  • Douglas Baca
  • Mitchell Vanzo
  • Devon Reif
  • Derek Reif
  • Tristan Reif

Services

  • Visitation

    Thursday, May 13, 2021

  • Visitation

    Thursday, May 13, 2021

  • Celebration of Life

    Friday, May 14, 2021

  • Celebration of Life with Burial to follow

    Friday, May 14, 2021

  • Committal Service

    Friday, May 14, 2021

Memories

Donald Lee Vanzo

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Dottie Lou Bonneau

May 13, 2021

When I was little, I pretended Don was my brother. I was an only child, two years older than my cousin.

First memory with Don: Christmas at Mama's and Papa's (our grandparents). I was five and Don was three. We explored the terrying basement where there was a furnace that groaned.

Exploring became one of our favorite things to do. We hunted snakes in the creek by his house. We vowed to kill them so the neighborhood would be safe. All we ever found was a night crawler, which we thought was a snake. We camped in a huge tent up at Granby before there was cabin. Don and I would get up at dawn go fishing until it got dark. Our most famous adventure was when we stayed in a cabin at Grand Lake. Don was eight, and I was ten. No one else was up. We borrowed a row boat and rowed all the way across Grand Lake and deep into Shadow Mountain. When we returned, our mothers were ready to send the police out to look for us. I loved Don's sense of adventure.

Don was tenacious and brave. A lot of people don't know he struggled with stuttering when he was young. He confronted his problem by agreeing to take drama lessons. I thought he was very brave to stand in front of an audience and recite a monologue or poem, sometimes stumbling over the words, but never quitting or displaying fiear. He overcame stuttering and became a respected coach and teacher.

When we were teenagers, I remember the thrill of sitting in the Lakewood football stands and hearing the announcer mention Don Vanzo over and over again. I felt so proud to be his cousin.

What impressed me most was Don's dedication to be himself and to live life his way. My relation nship to my cousin Don was precious, he will always live in my heart.




Chuck Westervelt

May 11, 2021

Listening to my CD of Moody Blues at Red Rocks, memories come of my longest friend of 66 years, Don.

Selling Kool-Aid to construction workers at South Lakewood for a Dick Tracy walkie-talkie set.

Our block football team with player-coach Don. He started lifting weights at 12 or earlier for football, his passion.

His dad had a pan of bent nails we had to straighten before building something. Don's life lesson: thrift.

Riding his bicycle downhill to Lakewood Junior High, his tennis shoes hanging from the handlebars got caught in the spokes. He took a header. His face bloody, he still went to school. Tough.

Our trips to Granby with brother Vern driving. We caught loads of Kokanee salmon. We emptied gunny sacks of fish into laundry sinks in his parents' basement, cleaning until our thumbs were raw.

Always the prankster. I set my stocking hat down. He filled it with salmon eggs. I put it on, not knowing. The joke was on me, as eggs dripped down my face to his laughter.

The best time was our 1976 trip to Alaska in the 1968 Ford 3/4-ton 4x4 with loud side exhaust and, of course, a CB radio and no watches. Driving 3,400 miles, 1,400 on dirt roads, enjoying scenery, beer, and pot. What a great memory.

King salmon drift fishing on Kenai River. One morning, a large boat going full speed came straight at us, sun in their eyes. We started yelling. They swerved at the last second, filling our small boat full of water. Close call.

Growing a garden when he lived at my grandma's house after the pain of his divorce. Played the song "Smoke Out the Memory" until he about wore out my album.

Times at the the Last Chance in Gunnison and Lane’s Tavern on West Colfax. Two tap beers for 25¢.

Don always took better care of his pets (friends) than of himself. They were the real loves of his life.

He never missed a Moody Blues concert. “Isn’t Life Strange"

Life was an adventure. He lived to the fullest. 10-4, good buddy. Over and out.

Chuck Westervelt

John Morgenstern

May 9, 2021

I first met Don on a summer day in 1960 after my family moved to Lakewood. He was my neighbor and two weeks younger than me. We were 14 and hit it off from the start but little did I know he would become my best friend for the next 60 years. We made many good memories through our teens and high school years. After college our careers took us in very different directions but we never failed to stay in touch.

Our shared love of hunting and fishing took us many places and created more great memories and a strong bond. Together we hunted moose in Alaska, where a brown bear walked on our tent one night, to turkeys in Florida, bears in Montana, deer and antelope in Colorado, hogs in Oklahoma. Don called in my first turkey in Colorado and started the same love for turkey hunting as he had. We went on to hunt turkeys in Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Kansas and South Dakota. We hunted waterfowl and upland game. We fished from Alaska to Mexico and many places in between. Don wanted to catch a tuna so we went to Mexico a couple of years ago and made it happen. Always we had a great time even if unsuccessful.

Don was not just a best friend but a great person. He had a big and kind heart and was very generous. If you needed something he was there and would do whatever he could to help. He had a great sense of humor and a great laugh. And he gave good hugs! I love you Bruz. You’re missed.

Mike Schnitker

May 9, 2021

Don was my best friend in High School. We played on the Lakewood High football team together, and pretty much did everything together. He taught me how to hunt and fish. Don was one of the toughest guys I knew on a team full of tough guys. We were sparring partners in wrestling practice, and he taught me how to lift weights safely and effectively. We always cruised Colfax and Wadsworth Boulevard on Saturday nights in his powder blue & white Mercury. We always double dated if we could get anyone to go out with us. Don went to Western State Collage on a football scholarship and I went CU. We still stayed in touch for many years. After college we both coached different little league football teams. My little league team played his little league team, and his team won. He never let me forget it. I loved Don Vanzo, he was my friend.

Corine Vanzo

May 8, 2021

My uncle Don was a great guy. He was always happy to help people. He held me when I was just a couple of months old. He taught me social studies in junior high and was an inspiring figure. I appreciate his input in my growing up years. He he moral values and was always inspiring.

Kelley Van Scoyk

May 7, 2021

I had the pleasure of knowing Don through Front Range Veterinary Clinic where he brought his beloved Labradors and cats for care. I was a teenager when I first met Don and eventually had the honor of becoming his veterinarian. We bonded over a shared love for fantasy football and the Broncos and I quickly came to look forward to seeing the name Vanzo on the schedule. Don had a heart of gold especially when it came to his pets. He will truly be missed.

FROM THE FAMILY

Main photo for service

FROM THE FAMILY

Don senior picture

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Main photo for service

FROM THE FAMILY

Don senior picture

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
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FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
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FROM THE FAMILY