George Zarounian Death, Obituary – George, born in Goshen, California, to Siranoush and Onig Zarounian on December 28, 1920, died quietly at home on January 3, 2014, surrounded by his family. George, his two sisters, and younger brother lived in Monson-Sultana, where his father farmed, as the oldest of four children. George graduated from Dinuba High School in 1930.
“GZ” (as he was known) married Hasmig “Jessie” Peloian after pursuing her during their engagement. George and Jessie had Carol, Gail, and Gary. George’s first love was cars. He restored his first 1926 Model A Roadster and a racing midget in high school. George opened his first vehicle business in Dinuba in 1948 and another in Visalia in 1954.
George’s life revolved around the motor industry. In 1993, he and his son Gary opened Zarounian Cadillac/Oldsmobile/Isuzu. His ambition and determination helped him succeed in business. George founded many more enterprises, including Dinuba’s Zee and Dee Packing with his childhood buddy Harry Davidian.
Jerry Malone Productions showcased “Little Irvy the Whale,” Boss Trucks, and other Visalia retail enterprises. In the early 1970s, George’s old friends Ted Balestreri, Bert Cutino, and Harry Davidian founded the Foursome Development Company, a significant Monterey property owner and developer.
GZ, a handsome dresser who favored cigars, black Cadillacs, and cowboy hats, believed Frank Sinatra composed “My Way” for him. George never betrayed his friends or business associates. “Cannery Row George” played in the 1976 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas after spending much of his life playing “card” games with friends. GZ’s last poker session with friends was a month ago for his 93rd birthday.
In 1978, George and his son Gary, who also loves racing, returned to midget racing. They used George’s initial race vehicle number ’67’ for 30 years. After the dealerships were sold and racing slowed down, George could be found at Club One in Fresno or in his home shop, where he used his mechanical skills to make hundreds of owl boxes for California vineyards and orchards.
George joined St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Yettem, California, Triple X Fraternity, and the AGBU. George was predeceased by his wife, Jessie, of 67 years; his parents, Siranoush and Onig Zarounian; his younger brother, Gary; and great-grandson, Grant Hovannisian.
He is survived by his two sisters, Alice Halbourian and Gladys Zarounian; three children, Carol and husband Vernon Hovannisian, Gail and husband Bruce Groefsema, and Gary Zarounian and his fiancée Sally Schott; six grandchildren: Damon and wife Connie Hovannisian, Gia and husband Andrew Kazarian, Vincent Hovannisian, Ashley and husband David Bolduc, Blair and Derek Pasut, and Bret Groefsema; and five greatgrandchildren: Alexa, Luke, and Austin Kazarian.
On Thursday, January 9, 2014, at 11:00 a.m., St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Yettem, California, will hold a funeral. Donations can be made to St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church, P.O. Box 367, Yettem, California 93670, or Kaweah Delta Hospice, 900 W. Oak, Visalia, California 93291, in place of flowers.
Visit our website to send flowers or express your condolences. Location #51701. Miller Memorial Chapel, Visalia, California, 732-8371.I’m sad to announce my dear friend Gary Zarounian’s death. I’m sad to say goodbye to an amazing person. I love Z.