Published DateLACONIA — Saturday was a very special birthday for 90-year-old Jim Zanes, who was feted at the Mt. Lebanon Masonic Lodge by his fellow Masons, friends and family.
Zanes, dressed in his favorite University of New Hampshire T-shirt that he wears because his granddaughter is a student, was a nearly life-long Gilmanton resident until moving to Laconia after selling his land.
Born in Laconia on Manchester Street, Zanes said he served in the U.S. Army at the Allied Force Headquarters on the Mediterranean Sea during WW II. He returned home the day after the Japanese surrendered and joined his family who had moved to Gilmanton in 1943.
Back stateside, he said he found employment "doing anything that paid money" and eventually worked for both Scott and Williams and the Allen Rogers Co., from where he retired.
He married a Dutch woman he met through being her pen pal and the two were married after she came to the United States for a visit.
His only child June Garen, also of Gilmanton, said her mother died last year. Here parents were married 59 years.
Once employed, he said he bought two Gilmanton wood lots — one with 125 acres for $600 and one with 60 acres for $200. He said he sold the "south 40" to enhance his retirement when Route 140 crossed his land.
"It was a baronial estate," he said with a grin. "I can't take it with me so I had to sell it."
Garen said her father loved being a Mason and was the Master of the Lodge in 1993. He quipped Saturday that at 18:30 Friday night he achieved the status of Exalted SAF or Senile Old Fart.
Garen said Zanes was a life-long member of St. James Episcopal Church in Laconia and worked serving meals with the Masons for their Hands Across the Table mission.
She said that although her father is unable to walk, the Masons come an take him out at least once every three or four weeks.
"These folks have been just wonderful to him," she said.
When asked what kind of man her father is, Garen said if she had to sum him up in one work it would be "integrity."
"He never told a lie and if he couldn't say anything good about some one he said nothing," she said.
Garen also said one of the life lessons she learned from her father was empathy and kindness. "He minds his own business and and he's decent," she said. 'I've never known him to be unkind."
When asked what he would do for his 91th birthday, Zanes said he would probably be at the same place next year, cutting another cake for his friends and family.
CUTLINE: With his daughter looking on, 90th birthday celebrant Jim Zanes cut a cake for his friend and family at the Mt. Lebanon Masonic Hall in Laconia Saturday afternoon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)