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Obituaries » Joseph Zukin

Joseph Zukin

December 4, 2018

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On December 4, 2018, the world lost a true gentleman. He was a man of many talents and accomplishments. His passion for business was only surpassed by his love and devotion to his family and friends. Joe is survived by his wife, Carol, Peggy, the mother of his children, Chris, Ann (Alisa), John, Mary and Michael Zukin, as well as his step children Anneliese, Abel, Miles and Zachary Eisentraut; and his grandchildren Nick Zukin, Stacy Baker, Peggi Casady, Katie Zukin-Kovach, Joseph Alisa, Tali Hafoka, Mary Alisa, David Alisa, Michael Alisa, Jessica Zukin, Mary Zukin, Zach Hespen, Meg Zukin, Jack Zukin, Sam Zukin and step grandchildren Eva and Nicky Eisentraut. He had 22 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Robert Zukin of Santa Barbara, California.

Joe was an entrepreneur extraordinaire. He was passionate for founding and nurturing many successful businesses. This passion began at a young age with an egg route and vegetable stand in Brentwood, California where he was born and raised. His father, Joseph, was born in Russia and immigrated to America in 1902. He became a well-known clothing manufacturer (Joseph Zukin of California) on the West Coast and along with Joe’s mother Helen, they instilled in Joe the love of business.

Joe attended University High School in Los Angeles and went on to Stanford University. He was 17 years old when he enrolled knowing that he would be drafted into the military as soon as he turned 18. His education was interrupted by his induction into the Army 9th Infantry Division. He went to Officers Candidate School where he became a 2nd Lieutenant. Later he was stationed in Traunstein, Germany and served in the occupation and resettlement of displaced persons from 1945-46.

Upon his return in 1946, he resumed his studies in Economics at Stanford and graduated in 1949. As a senior he was President of his fraternity Phi Gamma Delta and the Stanford Cardinal Society. In 1949 he married Peggy Sherman (Class of 1950).

Before graduating, he started the first self-service gas station in Northern California, the Sharin Oil Company. He went on to build eight more stations.
In 1952, he opened the first automatic car wash in Northern California with his childhood friend and Stanford classmate, Glen Holtby.

In 1955 while on a trip to Los Angeles with his future partners (including his lifelong friend and attorney, Michael Khourie formerly of San Francisco) he visited Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm where the idea of an amusement park for Northern California was seeded. In 1960, Joe built Frontier Village Amusement Park in San Jose. This went on to become a popular attraction for the next 20 years and is still loved and remembered by former employees and visitors. Frontier Village enthusiasts hold an annual picnic in San Jose to reminisce about those days.

In 1968, Joe entered another business venture by purchasing a small outdoor advertising company in Merced, California called Cleveland Outdoor. He grew this small operation into a large billboard company, which he sold to 3M National Outdoor in 1980.

Continuing in this industry, he purchased an additional outdoor advertising business, Honald Outdoor, and grew it into what is now Meadow Outdoor Advertising with billboards in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. His sons, Chris, John and Michael have taken the reins and continue to foster and grow the company, guided by the steady work ethic modeled by Joe.

Nearly at the same time as he started Meadow Outdoor, he entered the Radio Broadcasting industry with the purchase of KGFM and KGEO in the Central Valley. He remained in the Radio business until his passing through his affiliation as a Board member and part owner of Empire Broadcasting, which is the former owner of KARA and partner of KRTY and owner of KLIV founded and led by Joe’s longtime friend Bob Kieve.

In 1990, he and his sons also purchased Stott Outdoor Advertising with the Zukin family’s latest partner, Jim Moravec. This company continues to thrive today.

In 2013, he was honored by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and OAAA President Nancy Fletcher, a long time professional colleague, was there when he was inducted into the OAAA Hall of Fame

In 1990, Joe and Carol married and moved to Sebastopol, CA where he resided until his death. Along with a continued involvement in his company, he became an avid domino player at the Wild Oak Saddle Club and enjoyed weekly games.

Like his father, Joe’s love of business was surpassed only by his love and devotion to family and friends. He will be missed by many, especially his wife, his former wife and children, 15 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.

Joe’s life was long and fruitful. He missed his 93rd birthday by only a month. The true worth of a man is how he is remembered. Joe’s memory will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and countless others whose lives he touched.

Joe will be interred with his parents at Forest Lawn in Glendale California in a private ceremony. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date in the San Francisco Bay Area.