David Zola


CHAMPAIGN – David Zola, 71, of Champaign passed away Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 708 W. Main St., Urbana, with the Rev. Luke Spannagel as celebrant. Burial is private. Visitation is from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at the church. Owens Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. 

Dr. Zola was born May 29, 1947, at Cambridge, Mass., the son of Remo and Elinor Zola. He married Susan Staats May 29, 1989, and she survives.

Also surviving are two daughters, Sarah Zola (Eli) Khazoum and Anne Zola; a son, Luke Zola; and a sister, Dale Zola.

Dr. Zola graduated from Lenox High School in 1965 and continued his education at Fairfield University, Williams College and Cornell University. In 1978, he accepted a position as an assistant research professor at the University of Illinois and for the next 40 years distinguished himself as an outstanding teacher and professor in the UI College of Education. He lived to mentor, encourage and foster long lasting relationships with his students, many of whom became lifelong friends.

Outside the classroom, he served as a youth minister in St. Patrick’s Parish, where he met his future wife. He did not realize anything in his life was missing until he was blessed with three children, whom he always said were his greatest gifts. Called to serve once more, he was ordained as a deacon in May 2012, a role that allowed him to positively influence the lives of others every day.

His legacy will live on through his family, students, parishioners and all the many lives he impacted with his humor, grace and compassion.

Dr. Zola wanted to give a gift to the church that encompasses his lifelong love of music, and the family requests donations be made to St. Patrick's Catholic Church to build a formal cantor stand in his name. 

Online condolences at www.owensfuneralhome.com.