Andris Zarins

December 21, 1943 ‒ July 31, 2020

Ostrander, Ohio

Andris (Andy) Zarins, 76, of Ostrander, Ohio passed away on Friday, July 31, 2020.  He was born on December 21, 1943 in Liepaja, Latvia to the late Augusts and Alise (Jansevskis) Zarins.  In 1975 he married Zigrida Berzins of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

He is survived by his wife Zigrida, son Karl (Jen) Zarins, son Markus (Katti) Zarins, daughter Diana (Ben) Zarins Ansel and grandchildren Alexander, Kathryn, Liam, Connor, and Greta. Also surviving are his brother John (late Dorothy, late Margaret) Zarins of Charleston, South Carolina and sister Biruta (Jack) Kearns of Casper, Wyoming, as well as many other family members and friends.

At just a few months old, toward the end of World War II, Andris fled with his family to Germany during the Soviet Russian invasion of Latvia in 1944.  Life in Germany was spent living in barracks in Displaced Persons camps until the age of 6. After learning that returning to Latvia was not an option, Andris and family were sponsored by an American family with a farm in Hicksville, Ohio.  They worked hard to pay back their sponsor for their transportation and to earn money for their needs. Eventually they settled in Defiance, Ohio and became naturalized citizens of the US.

Andris earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University in Civil Engineering and was a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Professional Surveyor (PS) until his passing. He then was a member of the US Air Force, as a Site Developer in Arizona.

Andris spent most of his professional civil engineering career working as a Traffic Safety Engineer and Area Construction Engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), District 6. During his tenure at ODOT, in the 1980’s he was instrumental in passing petitions which eventually led to a non-smoking policy in the office, something that was unheard of at the time. Soon after, this initiative expanded to all State of Ohio offices.

After 25 years of service, he retired from ODOT in 1997 and went on to become the City Engineer for the City of Fostoria, then an Engineer for the City of Columbus, retiring for a second time.

His passion for civil engineering expanded beyond his professional career, as he would often discuss road designs and traffic patterns with anyone that would listen. He especially loved driving by the projects he was working on and explaining the improvements that were being made. He also loved sharing stories of his beloved dog, Smoochie, a husky/greyhound mix who was the best dog he’d ever met.

One of the greatest accomplishments of his life was building the family home, mostly by himself, in the mid 1980’s on their 87 acre property in Ostrander. He was a visionary and had a creative eye for design and enjoyed working with his hands. In the 1990’s, using his engineering and surveying skills, he dug and built a 3 acre pond on the property which the family affectionately refers to as “Lake Andy”. Later in his life he became an inventor and holds a US patent that he obtained without help from a patent lawyer.

Andris was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed boating, camping, hunting, fishing, landscaping, and working outdoors. He had a love for nature and could easily identify hundreds of types of trees. In fact, one summer he convinced all three of his children to help him plant 500 trees on the property. Earlier in his life he enjoyed coaching his children’s baseball teams and rarely, if ever, missed one of their sporting events.

He will be remembered by his loving family for his wry sense of humor, booming voice, unmatched work ethic, unwavering advice, enduring life lessons, and bold ideas. Most importantly, he will forever be remembered for the fierceness with which he loved his family and the life that he worked so hard to provide for them. His loss is profound, and he will be missed greatly.

Due to COVID virus concerns, the memorial service held on Monday, August 10, 2020 will be limited to immediate family only with streaming capability for those that wish to join virtually. Please reach out to Zig or one of his children for instructions on how to join.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to the Latvian Center Garezers, 57732 Lone Tree Road, Three Rivers, Michigan 49093. To leave a condolence or share a memory please visit

  • Zig and family
    So very sorry for your loss. You are all in my prayers sending love your way.

  • Zig,
    I’m so sorry to hear of Andy’s passing. You and the kids will be in my prayers during this time. We have many fond memories of Andy during our days at work and up at the lake. He was a wonderful friend. Sending hugs!

    • Gail and Tom,
      Thank you for your condolences. Yes, we did have our adventures, didn’t we? Really good memories
      I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

      Zig and family.

  • Zig:
    I am profoundly saddened by Andy’s passing and your loss of your husband. My wife Alice and I are praying for you and your family.
    Deepest Condolences,
    Jack Marchbanks

    • Jack,
      Thank you so very much for your condolences and prayers.
      At times like this they really help.

      Zig and family

  • I am so sorry such fun memories of him. Can’t believe he is gone. I pray for comfort for your family.Jeri Sphar ( Long)

    • Jeri,
      There really were some fun times. Have to remember those!
      Thank you for your prayers and condolences.
      Zig and family

  • Zig:
    I am so sorry to hear of Andy’s passing. Andy and you were both critical members of a terrific District 6 team. My wife and I will keep your family in our prayers.

    • Mike,
      It really was a terrific District 6 team! We were glad to be a part of it.
      Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
      We really appreciate it.
      Zig and family

  • Zip,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Andy was a great person to work with. You and your family are in my prayers.

  • Andy was one of the best bosses and teachers I have ever had. More importantly, he had become a friend. His area in Construction was called “Special Projects”. Some of us who worked under him lovingly called the area “Special Forces” with Andy as our “General”! As a boss, he expected us to perform. He also took care of us. Our personal problems were his problems, and he went out of his way to make accommodations for people under him.
    Zig and family, Andy had my deepest respect, and you have my heart felt condolences. I am glad that I learned from him early in my career.

    • Ferzan,
      Thank you so much for your condolences and for sharing your memories. He always spoke highly of you and also considered you a good friend. Gee, and here I never even knew he was a general (ha,ha). He would have loved this post!
      Thank you!
      Zig and family

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Ferzan. You have no idea how much it touched our hearts. Growing up we heard your name often. Dad was very fond of you.


  • No words can express how sorry we are to hear about Andy. We are thinking of you and your family. We are praying for you during this difficult time.

  • Zig,
    I’m so sorry to hear about Andy. My first job at ODOT Andy taught me traffic safety studies. He was smart and patient and had a unique sense of humor and a great mischievous smile. I’m glad I knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Leslie Montgomery

  • Condolences to you and your family. Andris sounds like he was an amazing man. You are in my thoughts.

  • Zig. He was an amazing man from engineer to inventor to builder of your home and lake and a good man to your family. We are so sorry for your loss and send loving thoughts to you, Diana, and the rest of your family.
    Love and Peace. Christine and John McKenzie

    • Christine And John,
      Going through pictures was so healing…. seeing the vibrant, energetic man he was in days gone by bought back memories that are priceless.
      Thank you for your kind thoughts
      Zig and family

  • Zig,
    I can’t imagine the loss you and your family are feeling right now. I’m so sorry for you all. You’re all in my prayers.

  • Zig and Family, So very sorry to hear of your loss. Sending many prayers and Andy will be missedm

  • Andy was a perfectionist in a imperfect world. He loved to debate and he could present either side of the subject with passion and skill. He will be missed.

  • I worked with Andy for many years at ODOT. Debates were a part of our daily regimen. But we always came away as friends and knew that we had each others backs. He cared deeply for his family and for others families as well. He will be missed.
    My condolences to Zig and the family.

    • Dave,
      Great memories! He often mentioned you.
      Thank you for your condolences.
      Zig and family

  • Zig,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that you and your family will be surrounded and upheld by the love, comfort, strength and beautiful memories that will carry you through the days ahead. Praying for you and your family.

  • Zig;
    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Whether or not you agreed with his ideas, you had to admire Andy’s passion for all things traffic. He has left his mark to make this part of the world better for all and will be missed.

    • Thom,
      You are so right. He definitely had a passion for all things traffic. Even after he retired!
      Thanks for the memories
      And for your condolences .
      Zig and family

  • Diana,

    I’m so very saddened to hear of the passing of your father. I know it is a difficult time and I will be lifting you and your family up in prayer.

    May the Peace of God that passes all understanding be with you and your family during this time.

  • Dear Family :

    Mike and I are keeping all the family in our thoughts and prayers. 🙏🙏

  • Zig and family,
    I am very sorry to learn of Andy’s passing and the loss you all are experiencing. I worked with Andy in D6 and have some stories. After I joined the Director’s office in C.O. on occasions I would work with Andy during his time with the City of Columbus. He had a strong passion for Transportation and this we shared equally. His loss will be felt by many and he will be missed. You all are in my thoughts and prayers! God Bless!
    Bob Campbell

    • Bob,
      Thanks for the memories. I think he would be pleased to know that he will be missed.
      Thank you
      Zig and family

  • Zarins family, very sorry for your loss of a great grandfather, Dad and Husband!!! Prayers are sent to all your nice family!!

  • Diana,
    I am so sorry. This obituary definitely speaks to what an amazing man he obviously was. I know there are no words that can ease pain, but please know you and your entire family are in my thoughts and my heart.

  • Zig,
    I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayer go out to you and your family. God bless you!

  • Zig and family,
    So sorry to read of the passing of Andy.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Diana & Family,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Andy sounds like the most amazing man. Thank you for sharing his incredible story. Sending you all lots of hugs and comfort during this time.

    With love,

    • Thank you, Erika, for reaching out and for your kind words. It is much appreciated.


  • Jig and family,
    We are all so sorry for your loss.
    We all feel like he was part of our family and we will all miss him greatly.
    Even at this time of sadness when we think of and talk about Andy we just have to smile thinking of all the experiences and fun times over the years.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and know that if you need anything we are here for you.

    Mike, Leslie and family

    • Leslie, Mike and family

      I would like to thank you all for being our friends and helping us out all this time. You definitely are like family. Words can’t express how much I have appreciated your support. And yes, some crazy times were had!
      Good memories!
      Zig and family

  • Very sorry to hear of Andy’s passing.
    I always enjoyed talking to him and considered him a friend. He will be missed!

    I never knew that he was born in Latvia.
    My former business partner was born in Estonia and shared a similar experience at the end of WWII. There are probably some interesting family stories about how they survived and made it to the U.S.

    • Ray,
      Thank you for your memories. Andy always valued your opinions and considered you a friend.
      Your paths seemed to cross several times in a variety of situations. Andy looked upon you with utmost respect.
      Zig and family

  • Zig, I am sorry to hear of your husband’s passing.
    Your family has much to be proud of as his obituary is a testament to a very special person for you and your family and many others.

  • Zigrida, Nupat dabuju zinas par Andru aiziesanas. Velu Jusu gimenei dzilu lidzjutibu.un Dieva mieru. Helara Shaw

  • Mūsu visdziļako līdzjūtību par Andru aizgašanu mūžībā. Mūsu lugšanas ir ar Jums. Inga un Dāvids Zadvinskis

  • Karl and family,

    I am so sorry to hear your dad passed. We are saying prayers over you.

  • Zigrida un gimene,

    Novelam Andrim vieglas smiltis un Jusu gimenei Dieva mieru.

    Vilnis un Kristine Kubulins

  • Markus & family,

    My condolences to you all. Judging from this beautiful obit, Andris was one incredible person. May you always cherish his legacy and lifetime of fond memories.

    Sky Hill

  • Zigrīda,
    Gadi aizskrējuši bet jaunības draugi tomēr paliek prātā un sirdī. Bija dikti žēli lasīt par Andri Laikā. Lai Andrim ir vieglas smiltis un visai ģimenei labas atmiņas un mierīga sirds.
    Visu labu, Astra Māliņa