John Zoolakis passed away peacefully on May 29, 2022 at his home due to chronic kidney disease. He was born August 10, 1939 in Price,
Utah to Greek immigrants and was the middle child of three boys (George and Charles Zoolakis).
As a youth growing up in Columbia, Utah, John enjoyed participating in numerous sports including football, basketball and baseball. Moreover, he was selected to play on the Carbon County All-Star Pony League baseball team. In 1957, John graduated from Carbon High School where he lettered in track (the sprints were his favorite events) and baseball. He received an Associate in Science degree from Carbon Junior College in 1959 where he continued to play baseball and run track. He then attended the University of Utah where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963 and lettered in track. For two years, he worked with Kiwanis Felt as a recreation leader. Additionally, he was a counselor at the county detention center where he met what would be his first wife, Cherie Lynn Snyder. In 1964, he and Lynn were married and quickly started a family – together, they had four sons (Andrew, Anthony, Matthew, and Nathan).
It was during the fall of 1963 that he began his teaching and coaching career -- Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City, where he taught algebra and geometry, and coached wrestling, freshman football, and track. Upon finishing the school year in 1967, John, Lynn and the boys were off to Porterville, California where he began teaching and coaching at Porterville High School.
In 1975, shortly after his divorce, John moved back to Salt Lake City, where he continued to teach mathematics and driver’s education, as well as, coach track and field at Olympus High School. It was here that he gained many great friendships from both staff and students, and would continually refer to them all as family even after his retirement in 2001. John was passionate about teaching his students and ensuring that when they left his classroom, they left prepared in both Mathematics and Driver’s Ed. His passion also carried over to his coaching where he was a fixture on the track and field team for both boys and girls where “Coach Z” would be commonly heard on the field and in the halls. He always wanted to ensure student athletes were recognized for their accomplishments, and he was a historian of sorts reminding others of the great athletes that passed through the halls of the school over the years he was there.
John continued to run track after college as part of the Corona Del Mar track club and added field events (discus and javelin) to his repertoire. In 1975, he traveled to Toronto, Canada to compete in the sprints at the World Masters Track and Field Championships. Finally, in keeping with his love of sports, John and his younger brother Charlie were long-time season ticket holders for the University of Utah football team and would never miss a home game (even in bad weather and when the team was sub-par).
In 1990, John married Valerie Galullo, however, it was short- lived and he vowed never to get married again. Fortunately, a few years later, John met the love of his life, Rena Giannopoulos and the two were married at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in 1999. Through his marriage to Rena, John gained two wonderful daughters, Patty Giannopoulos and Sandra Clark, who opened their hearts (and homes) to him and treated him like their father.
John was also a classic car enthusiast, and you could always find him at car shows scattered across Salt Lake County in the spring and summer-time. He enjoyed showing off his 1956 Lincoln and talking about classic cars with other like-minded individuals.
Like his father, John loved to plant and tend a vegetable garden over the summer months. He enjoyed sharing Greek cucumbers, zucchini, egg-plant, sweet peas, tomatoes, and carrots with family and friends. More importantly, he cherished the time teaching all his grandchildren how best to harvest what the garden provided.
Raised as Greek Orthodox, John regularly attended both Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias churches where he could embrace his Greek roots and worship his Christian beliefs. He was a familiar face at the annual Greek Festival where he enjoyed volunteering.
John is survived by his wife, Rena Zoolakis; brother, George Zoolakis; sons, Andrew, Anthony (Kari), Matthew (Julie), Nathan (Lori); daughters Patty Giannopoulos and Sandra (Peter) Clark; his 9 grandchildren (Christopher, Taren, Saxon, Sofia, Ara, Niko, Alexandra, Eleni, Gianni, and Anastasia), and his 3 great-grandchildren (Mason, Aiden and Alice).
A Viewing and Trisagion will be on Sunday, June 5, 2022 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City. Guests are encouraged to park on the north side of the building. The Funeral Service will be on Monday, June 6, 2022 at 11:00 am at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 279 South 300 West, Salt Lake City. Following the funeral he will be laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in John’s honor directly to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 279 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, 84101, or by clicking on the Donate link provided to the left.