Edmund Anthony Zottola, 85, died Oct. 4, 2017. He was living in Cook, Minn., but had been a longtime resident of St. Anthony Park while teaching in the Food Science Dept. at the University of Minnesota.
Ed was born in Gilroy, Calif., the son of first-generation Italian immigrants, Palmer and Teresa Zottola. Ed’s first job was working in his father’s dairy, turning rounds of cheese in the aging room. He later drove the milk-delivery truck around Grants Pass, Ore.
Ed graduated from Oregon State University (OSU) in 1954 with a degree in food science. He went on to get his master’s degree in food science at OSU in 1958, writing his dissertation about butter. Ed then moved to the Twin Cities to pursue his doctorate at the University of Minnesota, which he received in 1964.
In the summer of 1959, he met Marsha at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. They married in April 1960. They made their home in St. Anthony Park and raised their four children there. They were members of St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church.
They made frequent trips to their cabin on Lake Vermilion, where they moved after Ed retired. In Cook, they attended Trinity Lutheran Church, where Ed was a frequent greeter and usher. Ed was also a member of the Cook Lions Club, Northwoods Friends of the Arts and the Lake Vermilion Sportsman’s Club.
During his 31 years at the U of M, Ed worked at the Extension Service before becoming a full professor of food microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. He created a series of courses on home-canning for the Extension service that is still in use today. He also created a program of farmstead cheese after studying cheese-making processes in Europe. One farm, Eichten’s Cheese & Bison, is still producing Gouda cheese with techniques they learned through this program.
Ed, known as Dr. Z to his students, mentored and graduated more than 45 post-baccalaureate students, 30 master’s and 15 doctoral candidates in his tenure. Today they work in major corporations like Kraft, General Mills, Hershey’s and Ecolab, helping to keep our food supply safe.
Dr. Z retired in 1998, but continued to travel and do consulting work. He was recognized as one of the foremost authorities on home canning, sanitation in food production and cheese-making. He was active in several professional societies and was elected a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and International Association of Microbiology, Food and Environmental Sanitarians.
Dr. Z was a prolific writer, publishing books and dozens of scientific articles alone and with colleagues and students. In 2008, he wrote and published “Willie Walleye,” an award-winning children’s book based on stories told to his grandchildren. In his later years, he wrote a popular column in the Cook News Herald titled “Ramblings From an Old Professor.”
He was preceded in death by his parents, Palmer and Teresa; in-laws, Paul and Lucille Olson; sister-in-law, Barbara Bergman; and brother-in-law, Irvin Ole Swanson. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Marsha; sons, Joseph and Josh; daughters, Sarah (Michael) Masoni and Theresa Zottola Drift; six grandchildren; brothers, Palmer (Millie) and Ernie (Diana); and sister, Teresa (Richard) Miller.
A memorial service was held October at the Trinity Lutheran Church. The family asks that memorials be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota, alz.org/mnnd or the American Cheese Society’s ACE Foundation, cheesesociety.org/acefoundation.