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Raymond F. Zotti

September 3, 1917 October 18, 2017
Raymond F. Zotti
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Obituary for Raymond F. Zotti

Ray Zotti, a native of the South Side of Chicago and resident of Oak Park since 1966, died Oct. 18, 2017 at age 100, a feat made possible by the patient ministrations of his wife Mary Irene, his love of the sport of pigeon racing, daily completion of the crossword puzzle and the Jumble, and, in his last years, the devoted attention of his caregiver Nenita Johnson.
Ray produced beautiful drawings and briefly considered a career in art but, deciding there was no money in it and color blind besides, followed his father Christian into railroading, working first for the New York Central System, where he became chief clerk in the master mechanic’s office, and later the Association of American Railroads. A union man to the core, he served for many years as financial secretary of his local of the Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks.
Ray’s lifelong passion, taken up in his teens, was racing homing pigeons, which he kept in a loft in his garage. Taciturn in other matters, he could talk for hours about pigeons, which he considered a metaphor for the human condition. Many in the family owe their knowledge of avian digestive and reproductive habits entirely to Ray. He and the birds were featured in the Suburban Trib and the Wall Street Journal and on ABC7 News with Frank Mathie. In weekly races his pigeons came in “first in city” twice, among his proudest achievements.
A rehabber long before the term was common, Ray with the help of Mary Irene renovated two homes, the first in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood and the second in Oak Park, where the couple raised six children. A talented musician, Ray periodically entertained the family with impromptu piano recitals that invariably concluded with a bravura rendition of “Under the Double Eagle.” He was noted for his stubborn perfectionism, which many of his children inherited, and his bold, attractive handwriting, which most did not. He kept his wits till the end, notwithstanding some off days. Told he deserved a beer after struggling up the front steps with the aid of his sons and grandson following Mary Irene’s funeral in 2015 (she was 93), he said, “Make it two.”
Ray is survived by his younger brother Tom; his children Ed, Bob, John, Eileen, Peg and Bill; 18 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren to date. Visitation will be held at Drechsler, Brown and Williams, 203. S. Marion, Oak Park, from 3 p.m. till 8 on Thursday; funeral mass will be celebrated Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Edmund Church. Interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to PCD Foundation ( are appreciated.

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Previous Events





3:00 PM 10/26/2017 3:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 10/26/2017 8:00:00 PM
Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home

203 South Marion Street
Oak Park, IL 60302

Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home
203 South Marion Street Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Funeral Mass




11:00 AM 10/27/2017 11:00:00 AM
St. Edmund Church

188 S. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302

Prayers 10:30a.m. at the funeral home.

St. Edmund Church
188 S. Oak Park Ave. Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Cemetery Details


Queen of Heaven Cemetery Final Resting Place

1400 S Wolf Rd
Hillside, IL 60162

1400 S Wolf Rd Hillside 60162 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

PCD Foundation

10137 Portland Avenue South
Minneapolis , MN 55420

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