Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

John David "J.D." Zerko, 86, Orange

Our beloved father, John David “J.D.” Zerko, 86, of Orange, TX peacefully passed from this life to eternal life on Monday, May 8, 2023, with his youngest 2 daughters at his side.

Services are entrusted to Claybar Funeral Home with visitation to be held from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Sunday, May 14, 2023, which would have been his 87th birthday. Funeral Services will be at 10:00am, Monday, May 15, 2023, at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange. Officiating will be Bishop Jason Arrington. Burial will follow immediately after at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens on Highway 87 in Orange, where Daddy will be buried with Military Honors.

John “J.D.” was born on May 14, 1936, in Coalgate, Oklahoma to Peter Paul Zerko and Dovie Elizabeth Prince Zerko. He was a loving Son, Brother, Husband, Daddy, PawPaw, Great

PawPaw, Uncle, Alderman for the City of Pinehurst and a Friend.

John David “J.D.” Zerko was preceded in death by his parents; his 5 brothers, James “Zeke” Zerko, Pete Zerko, Ira Lee Zerko (MaryAnn), Franklin Delano Zerko and Martin “Eugene” Zerko (Linda). In 2021, he lost his beloved wife of 45 years, Beverley Jean Zerko.

He is survived by his 5 daughters; Wendy L. Buhler (RJ) of Azle, TX, Tara S. Torres (Kyle) of Fort Worth, TX, Kippi J. Fanning of Vancouver, WA, Mandi Kay Zerko (Chuck) of Orange, TX and Leigh Anne Zerko (Dawn) of Galveston, TX; 13 Grandchildren, 19 Great Grandchildren and 1 on the way; Sister-In-Law, Nancy Zerko of Orange, TX and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

At 6 years old, his parents and all 6 Zerko boys would pack up and drive to Texas and settle on a piece of land in Pinehurst, while his father found work in the booming business of Shipyards. Dad loved to attend school and went to Bancroft Elementary and Lutcher Stark High School, graduating in 1955. He would earn Perfect Attendance from Kindergarten thru College and was even featured in Ripleys Believe It Or Not! for having Perfect Attendance for 14 years of school.

He attended Panola Junior College in Carthage, TX where he played on a Basketball Scholarship. Wanting to further his degree in Geology, he received a scholarship to Lamar University where he continued to play basketball and roomed with his friend, Coach Billy Tubbs.

He would then be drafted to serve his country in the United States Army from 1960-1962 overseas in Germany. His love (and his tall 6’6” frame) would allow him to play basketball and also become the Baseball Statistician. We are quite sure this is where he developed a love for any and all sporting events. He could tell you the score of a basketball game in 1968, even telling you who scored the most points. He also loved the Houston Astros and was privileged to attend the very first and very last games played in the Astrodome (He even saved his ticket stubs to each game.). When Daddy returned from Germany he enlisted in the Army Reserves from 1962-1966.

J.D. was an extremely hard worker his whole life. His first official job was at the age of 12 when he would caddy for the golfers at the Sunset Grove Country Club Golf Course in Orange, TX.

He was later employed by A. Schulmann for 43 years when he retired in 2001 at the age of 65. He would be the first to volunteer for any overtime or extra shifts at the plant.

In 1973, John would meet a woman from San Antonio who had 3 little girls, (with hair of gold, like their Mother) through a Single’s Group in his church. He would eventually marry his loving bride, Beverley Jean Hallford Zerko for time and all eternity on July 22, 1975, in the Salt Lake City, UT Temple. They then had 2 more girls of their own.

Our Daddy had a love for serving others, as he taught us that service unto others is service unto the Lord. He ran for City Council and served as an Alderman and Mayor Pro-Tem to the City of Pinehurst for almost 20 years. He was honored in 2021 by the City Council when he retired and they renamed his childhood street to Honorary Zerko Lane. His favorite event was serving the Seniors of Pinehurst at the Annual Labor Day Picnic for many years.

He absolutely adored ALL children, (his friends’ children, his 5 girls, grandkids, great grandkids, and even all of their friends.) He enjoyed cheering his children on in all their school activities and would even climb to the roof at Schulmann on Friday Nights to watch the WOS Mustangs and his daughters performing at half-time with the Marching Band or Flag Corp. Daddy always found time to take his kids and especially his grandkids fishing. He has always had a huge love for Nature, trees, birds and gardens. He loved to volunteer in the Bird Blinds at Shangri-La. He never said the word NO to anyone and would give you his last $20 or the shirt off his back. He taught his children to always turn the other cheek. He not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk!!

Serving their PawPaw as Pallbearers will be his grandchildren. Pallbearer's: Joey Perkins, Jeni Gandy, Josh Perkins, Kayli Torres, Makenzi Torres, Rose Nathan Zerko, Nicky Zerko, Brad Ozan, Lauren Ozan and Madeline Evans. Honorary Pallbrearer's: Mark Guidry, Mallori Guidry and Matthew Guidry.

The Zerko Family would love to extend a special thank you to Texas Total Care Hospice Nurses: Miranda, Linda, Dianne, Sasha, and his favorite aide, Altovise “Al”. We would also love to let our sister, Mandi know that we can never Thank You enough for being with daddy every single day and taking such wonderful care of him in his last few years.


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