Roberta Zinni

BURKE, VA. —  Roberta Zinni, 83, who could charm any stranger into a friend, passed away July 6, 2011 after a lifetime filled with love, laughter, a smattering of challenges, and more love.

Known affectionately by family and friends as Bertie or Grammy Z, she was fond of daisies (even the yellow ones), wearing fuzzies, teasing her son-in-law, and taking long walks. She was passionate about sports, especially tennis and golf, and reigned supreme when it came to predicting outcomes, earning the respect of the males in her extended family (although often grudgingly, because really, who wants to lose out to their mother, or worse yet, grandmother!)

Bertie hailed from Longmeadow, Mass., and after marriage to Andrew Speed, moved to the wilds of Maine to begin her new life; first in Skowhegan, then in Bridgton. Bertie immersed herself in raising a family of four unruly children, giving them the tools they’d need for later in life. It appears she was quite successful in this endeavor since all four live very meaningful and productive lives (not to mention their talents in bed-making and tri-folding towels). She was also an extraordinary teacher who focused on physical education (the four children kept her in peak condition for such a job) during her Skowhegan years, and on American history at Bridgton Academy. Her last teaching engagement was for the State of Maine prison system, helping inmates to earn their GEDs.

Through her love of music, she met her second husband, Joseph Zinni who tickled not only the keyboard, but also her fancy. And with Joe, Bertie made her first journey to foreign lands, igniting a passion for travel and desire to understand different cultures. In retirement, her volunteer work enriched the lives of youngsters learning to read and swim. She continued her organ and piano playing, spent time with family and friends, and explored her interest (and amazing talent) in art; she excelled in painting with watercolors. When she moved to Virginia in 2007, her life became filled with travel to foreign lands, making new friends, bird watching in equal parts with squirrel chasing, becoming a “garden coupon,” and resisting the threat of an oatmeal chute.

Bertie loved her family: the four unruly ones, Linda, Gregg, Bonnie, Gary, and spouses; two stepdaughters, Cindy and Pam and spouses from her second marriage to Joseph Zinni; 10 grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

In accordance with her wishes, a private memorial service for family will be held at a later date.

In celebration of Bertie and her love of music, donations may be made to The Roberta and Joseph Zinni Scholarship Fund, University of Southern Maine, PO Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104. Checks should be made payable to The University of Southern Maine with the notation of The Roberta and Joseph Zinni Scholarship Fund.

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