December 21, 1943 ‒ July 31, 2020
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 www.snyderfuneralhomes.com.