Donald F. Zezima of Stamford, CT – dedicated father, loyal friend and loving husband to the late Lucia Thompson Zezima – died on December 14, at his home in Stamford, CT at the age of 95. An accomplished lawyer, devoted family man, avid reader, storyteller, singer, traveler and civic leader, Donald brought wisdom, joy and laughter to everyone in his orbit and will be sorely missed.
Born on March 21, 1927 at Stamford Hospital, he was the son of the late Michael D. Zezima and Frances Tamburri Zezima, both of Stamford.
Donald graduated from Stamford High School in 1945, while serving in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He was honorably discharged from service, after which he attended and graduated from Boston University College of Business Administration and then the Boston University School of Law. He was admitted to both the Connecticut and Massachusetts Bar in 1953. He returned to Stamford and went into private practice, establishing the firm of Macrides & Zezima in 1955, later becoming Macrides, Zezima & Schwartz and then Macrides, Zezima & Christiano. Donald was also admitted to practice before the Connecticut State and Federal Courts, the United States District Courts in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court.
Donald was engaged in his legal practice for over 60 years, including some important trial work. Among his notable clients and cases was one where he successfully represented two officers of the Stamford police department in a libel suit, Hogan and Maloney v. New York Times, 313 F. 2d 354, a Second Circuit case that predated but applied the standard of fault, “actual malice,” used in the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan, which established actual malice as the standard of fault in libel cases against public figures. He also was instrumental as counsel to paving the way for the City of Stamford’s development of Sterling Farms golf course, and he played a key role in the “Travis the Chimp” litigation.
Donald served as Treasurer and Vice President of the Stamford Bar Association. He continued to practice law and remain in good standing before the State and local Bar Associations well into his 90s, and he remained active in the Stamford community until the end.
A devoted son of Stamford in regard to family, friendships and civic activities, Donald’s passion for his hometown and family was nearly matched by his passion for politics. He was very active in the Republican party at the national, state and local levels, often serving as local elder statesman/advisor for budding politicians. He was ecumenical in his support, even giving aspiring Democratic candidates his advice and recommendation at times. He served as chairman of the state of Connecticut Republican Central Committee. He was also a member of the Stamford Republican Town Committee and the Richmond Park Republican Club.
Donald served as chairman of Stamford’s Committee for Public Safety, which oversaw the police and fire commissions. He served on the board of trustees of the Low Heywood Thomas School (now King School), and was involved with many other charitable organizations. He sat on the Board of Directors of the Italian Center of Stamford for decades, and was steadfastly devoted to the club’s success.
Donald was a modern Renaissance man before that was even a thing, being a talented and passionate singer, wine collector, reader (particularly of history), fitness enthusiast, member of DORA (the Dawdling Outdoor Runners’ Association), cross-country skier, and boater. If you were ever at Dominick’s on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx on a Good Friday, you may have caught Donald’s annual performance of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” which was always a crowd-pleaser. He stayed physically active until late in life and was a long-time member of the former Stamford YMCA and the Jewish Community Center. The life of any party, Donald also had a quick wit and a talent for both storytelling and crafting unique and outlandish sayings, such as “Whether you’re handsome or you’re ugly, it’s nice to know you have a face,” or, “I got class I ain’t never used yet.” He might also break into his heart-felt renditions of Sinatra’s “My Way,” “It Was a Very Good Year,” or “September Song.”
Donald’s greatest passion was for his wife – the love of his life, his Lucia, whom he married in 1961. (The two even named their boat The Don Lucia.) His other great passions were for his children, his boisterous extended family, and for the large group of loyal friends he cultivated throughout his life. A perfect day for Donald would include time spent at the Zezima homestead with Lucia, hosting those they loved– skating, sledding, playing family football or bocce, celebrating a holiday, clambake, or polenta party – or simply enjoying a good meal and fine wine with family, and friends who became family. As much as he loved his home, he also loved traveling near and far, especially with Lucia, and the two went on many adventures: to China, across Europe, to Latin America, and around the U.S (including annual trips to various historical Revolutionary and Civil War sites).
Donald was predeceased by his beloved wife, Lucia T. Zezima, and brothers Michael Zezima Jr. and Francis Zezima. He is survived by his three daughters; and their husbands, Carolyn E. Zezima of New York City (Gary Wiss), Sharon S. Zezima, of Orinda, CA (Kal Deutsch), and Catherine L. Zezima Watson of Stamford (Steve Watson); his granddaughter, Isabelle, and grandson, Lucas; and many beloved nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, as well as his brother in-law, Lawrence Thompson (Jill Bunce Thompson) of Houston, TX.
Family and friends may call at the Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Myrtle Avenue, Stamford, CT on Monday, December 19, 2022 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM. A graveside service will take place on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 at St. John’s Cemetery in Darien at 11:00 AM. A Celebration of Donald’s life, with lively tributes and eulogies, will immediately follow at Zody’s 19th Hole, 451 Stillwater Road, Stamford, CT at 12:00 PM.
In lieu of flowers, try to keep this one of Donald’s many pearls of wisdom in mind as you go forth: “Wherever you go, there you are…”
To leave online condolences, please visit www.cognetta.com.