George Zermeno, 94, Died Nov. 15 following a brief illness.
November 30, 2017
He leaves his wife of 73 years, Catherine (Mascaro) Zermeno; his daughter Melissa Wyman and her husband, Ty Wyman; sisters, Susan Nemec and Eloisa Pate; two grandchildren, Lucy Wyman and Teddy Wyman; and many nieces and nephews. His was preceded in death by his parents; his son Christopher; his sisters Tema and Mary; and his brothers Gus, Rico, Bernie and Gilbert.
Born in 1923 and raised in Barstow, the son of Bernardo and Carlotta Zermeno, Mr. Zermeno spent his early years as an altar boy as he grew up surrounded by his eight siblings. After graduating from high school in 1941he eagerly tried to enlist three times for WW II but was prevented each time because of a congenital heart condition. Instead, the big city beckoned him and he moved to LA to attend Los Angeles City College.
He married Catherine on June 25, 1944. After losing two fingers on the job during his first two weeks at a machine shop he followed up with a brief stint creating and selling ming trees before landing at RKO movie studios as a greensman. His work was recognized by Walter Allen, who began booking Mr. Zermeno for larger projects. His crowning achievement was working on the classic movie "It's A Wonderful Life," and his legacy is still celebrated today at the "It's A Wonderful Life" Museum in Seneca Falls, N.Y. He reflected on his time in the movie industry with pride, passion and nostalgia.
After his son Christopher was born he left the movie business for a job as a salesman at United Insurance. He quickly rose through the ranks at United, and was soon promoted to manager. With their savings, the Zermenos' bought the first of several LA properties, beginning a second career as a landlord that continues to this day for his wife.
Mr. Zermeno was quite the history buff and spent many years volunteering as a docent at the Getty Museum. He could recall events and dates with accuracy even in advanced age, and would often chat with visitors about current events or a new history book that had captured his fancy. Known for his sunny demeanor, he could greet people in more than a dozen languages and routinely reminded visitors to "Never let anything or anyone spoil your day."
A self-taught harmonica aficionado, he finally found his audience in his final years at Marycrest Manor where he lead sing-alongs while playing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Edelweiss." He never missed a chance to play his daughter's favorite tune, "Moon River," whenever she visited.
Remembered with love and fondness by all who knew him, Mr. Zermeno was as sweet as the candy of which he was so fond, and which he generously doled out to friends and family, often including one-pound boxes of See's Rocky Road in college care packages to his children.
His funeral service will be at noon, Dec. 5 at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, followed by a "Celebration of Life" luncheon in his honor at Petrelli's Steak House in Culver City.