Life Story / Obituary
Gregarious, joyful, and committed to his family, Steven Zarnas’ life will be remembered by all who knew him. Steven was born with a creative spark and infectious personality. A natural performer who loved the theater, he made a life of entertaining others through his many characters over the years. Always equipped with quick humor to lighten the mood, an ability to empathize with others, and a hearty sense of adventure, Steven lived his life to the fullest. He was a talented actor, a courageous spirit, and a wonderful companion who leaves behind a rich collection of wonderful memories for all who knew and loved him.
Despite the Thirties being marked by tough economic times, the decade also saw an expansion of new technologies, especially in the fields of aviation, radio, and film. In 1937 for example, the Golden Gate bridge opened giving Americans renewed pride and a new air record was set by Howard Hughes completing a flight from Los Angeles to New York. In the same year, Amelia Earhart took off from Miami attempting to achieve a flight around the world. Future U.S. President Ronald Reagan made his film debut with the release of the film, “Love Is on the Air” and President Franklin D. Roosevelt took his second term in office. Bringing great joy to their world, George and Xenia “Jean” (Pattakos) Zarnas welcomed home their loving son, Steven born on November 4, 1937 in Muskegon, Michigan. His birth brought them much promise in an ever changing world. Twelve years later, he became the older brother to his baby sister, Constantina.
Born to Greek immigrants, Steven’s family was always very proud of their heritage and were regular members of The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. His father owned and operated the P&G restaurant and also the local diner near the Greyhound bus station in Muskegon. Steven spent many of his growing up years around both restaurants often pitching in to support the family businesses during his adolescent years. He attended local schools near his home on Manz Street in downtown Muskegon. As a teenager, he fell in love with the theater program at his high school. During these years, he dreamed of one day performing as a professional actor in New York City. After graduating from Muskegon High School, he landed a few roles, as well as some leads, in the area Port City Playhouse theater group before he relocated to the state’s capital city of Lansing. Between his gigs with local theater productions in the greater Lansing area, he was a dishwasher at the popular Greek restaurant, Jim’s Tiffany Place. Working long hours, he earned his way up to manager. Many restaurant patrons loved to come and see him in his many area performances and share their rave reviews with him! During those years, he became somewhat of a local celebrity.
His life would take a different turn after his father passed away in 1965, when Steve returned back to his beautiful, hometown of Muskegon. He helped his mother with the family restaurant until it sold and then moved to the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. Steven loved the city and lived in several different locations primarily near the Lincoln Park area. With his easy-going personality and his skill set in pretty much anything involving the restaurant world, he didn’t have any problem obtaining jobs in the business. He worked at various establishments including the Madina Restaurant, a middle eastern restaurant in the downtown area. After growing tired of the restaurant scene, Steven set off to pursue his own cleaning business where he found success well into his sixties, cleaning homes and apartments around the city. A hard worker his whole life, Steven found joy in all he set out to do and made many lasting friendships along the way.
It was during these years with the cleaning business that he met his dear friend, Joe Carter. He and Joe lived with Joe’s mother for many years. Joe was a very caring and compassionate friend who helped Steven file for his social security and health care benefits during his retirement. Their relationship thrived until just a couple of years ago when sadly, Joe passed away. After Joe’s death, Steven’s wonderful nephew, Brandon helped him get settled into an assisted living facility where he received support from his new community of friends. Having no children of this own, Steven was indeed a special uncle to his nephews; Timothy, Brandon, and Damien. Described as a good man, with a big heart, who loved his family, Steve will be fondly remembered.
Mr. Steven G. Zarnas, age 79, passed away Monday, January 23, 2017. Steven was a member of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and was active in theater and the arts in his early years. Loving survivors include his nephews, Timothy A. Shafer Jr. of Manchester GA, Brandon Shafer of Seattle WA, and Damien James of Chicago IL. He was preceded in death by both of his parents and his sister, Constantina Zarnas James. A memorial service is planned for Sunday, February 5, 12:00 pm with visitation one hour prior at the Clock Chapel in Muskegon, Michigan.