Wallace (Wally) E. Zook

Thursday, May 7, 2020
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Wallace (Wally) E. Zook, born Nov. 25, 1944, left us suddenly on April 24, 2020 but his inspirational spirit lives on. Born to Delmar and Marie (Latham) Zook in Joliet, Illinois, Wally learned the value of hard work working side-by-side with his father as a farm hand on a variety of farms in agricultural communities west of Chicago. Wally’s strong work ethic followed him to college where he worked two to three jobs to pay for his education graduating from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, in 1966. It was there he met his future wife, Carol (Westergard) Zook, and later raised his two children, Brian Zook, and Allison (Zook) English.
Wally began building his banking career at this time in Naperville, Illinois, subsequently, joining First Colonial Bank Shares in 1975. For the next twenty-one years, Wally served as President, CEO, and/or Chairman of several Chicagoland banks and as Executive Vice President and Director of the bank holding company, First Colonial Bankshares Corporation (FCBC). Wally was legendary in his service to his clients, his dedicated loyalty to FCBC, and for mentoring dozens of his employees, propelling them to highly successful banking and other careers.
 It was during his banking career he cultivated his interest in aviation, which later proved to become one of his life and business passions. After leaving the banking arena, Wally founded Zook Pilot Services in 1995 to provide aircraft financing and insurance, subsequently selling the nationally recognized firm to a Chicago area bank in 1998. He founded Zook Plane Corp., which for five years conducted aircraft appraisals for many of the largest U.S. banks, and in 2004 established Wally Zook and Associates Aircraft Finance, where he made the dream of aircraft ownership possible for individuals and businesses nationwide.
 Wally married Diane (Dellumo) Zook in 1992, and for the next 28 years, they shared a life full of adventure and appreciation for outdoor activities. Stumbling upon what was to become their future home in Montana on a motorcycle trip in 2001, they went back to Illinois, sold everything, and settled in beautiful Red Lodge, Montana. Wally was fond of sharing the fact that he could see 100 miles of unhindered beauty in either direction from his front porch. Whether it was by plane, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, horseback, or convertible, Wally cherished the home of his soul. After a particularly harsh Montana winter in 2013, Wally and Diane decided to winter in Florida settling in the small fishing village of Goodland, Florida, where they embraced new friends and new outdoor activities to include boating and fishing – although Wally was sure to make it known the fish were safe.
 Wally loved his children and was proud of the adults they had become. His grandchildren were a delight to him - especially watching them grow and develop into the adults they will someday be. He enjoyed his family time, which included many family visits to both Montana and Florida and numerous motorcycle trips with his son.
 Wally was larger than life, yet was quiet and humble. His greatest joy was doing for others unselfishly and unceremoniously.   He possessed an innate understanding of people, recognizing the good in all and understanding that flaws make us human. Always with a quick wit and dry humor, Wally never failed to elicit a smile.  Although an astute and highly successful businessman, Wally was happiest wearing his tool belt fixing, building or repairing. He never tired of seeing the majesty of elk or the frolicking of dolphin. An animal lover, he shared a special bond with his horse, Gray, dogs Dickens and Scoozi, and cats Jazz, Bootleg, and Bob. Throughout life, Wally was an enthusiast for all things with wheels and enjoyed owning a variety of classic/contemporary cars, motorcycles, and airplanes. One of the greatest gifts he has left behind is his “Auto” Biography in which he chronicles his life through the vehicles he has owned.
 Wally was preceded in death by his parents, Delmar and Marie (Latham) Zook and half-siblings, Richard Zook, Rhea Raasch, and Don Gates, Sr. He is survived by his wife, Diane, son Brian (Kellie) Zook from Waupaca, Wisconsin, daughter Allison (Steve) English from Newark, Illinois, grandchildren Tressa, Taryn, and Teighan English from Newark, Illinois, Chyann and Billy Hamilton from New London, Wisconsin, great- grandchild Jackson Hamilton, and half-sister Marcia Erdle (Silver Creek, New York).
 A celebration of life will be held in the near future when large gatherings are permitted where together we can wear our cowboy hats and raise a bottle of Corona in Wally’s honor. Happy trails to you my love, dear father, and cherished friend. We all are standing by for a time when we can be together again. Those wishing to honor Wally with a memorial donation may choose the charity of their choice or Operation Second Chance, P.O. Box 1303, Red Lodge, MT 59068, or Beartooth Humane Alliance, P.O. Box 2333, Red Lodge, MT 59068.

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