Joseph L. Zanotti

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Joseph L.

Click to view the December 5th Memorial Service

Visitation will be held at Wisconsin Memorial Park “Chapel of Chimes”

13235 W. Capitol Dr.,

Saturday, December 5, 2020, 1-3 PM

Service at 3:00 PM

Joseph “Joe” L. Zanotti (66) passed peacefully in his home October 29 after a short bout with cancer.  He was blessed to feel the love and warmth that surrounded his bedside those last days, but the loving voices from those that went before him called out for him to join them in heaven.

Joe had a zest for life and people gravitated to his humor, wit, love for a good time, and storytelling.  His smile was infectious and his laughter heartfelt.  Joe was sincere, loving and kind and made those around him feel special and loved.

Joe had many interests but first and foremost, he loved spending time with and doting on his beloved wife, Terrie (Theresa) of 30 years.  They enjoyed weekends walking and exploring the many great restaurants in their neighborhood as well as visiting many of the great food cities around the country and Italy.  They shared the joy of cooking by entertaining family and friends and creating feasts that often featured one of Joe’s many famous Italian pasta sauces.  Most of all, he enjoyed preparing lovely dinners just for the two of them.

Family was important to Joe and he was fortunate to have many beautiful, warm spirited and loving family that extended beyond his immediate family, including his wife’s family, and his many special “Cuz’s.

Joe often recalled many fond childhood memories dating back to his Grandpa’s garden and wine casks on Greely Street to the smell of Grandma’s homemade strudel and donuts on First Street.  His parents, Leo and Anne Zanotti, created a warm and cozy home filled with love and laughter for Joe and his sister, Sandy (Przybylinski).  They always opened their doors, arms and hearts to his extended family and to his last days, he remained very close to each of his many special cousins.

Sandy had three incredible children to whom Joe grew very close to and loved beyond words – John and Amy Przybylinski, Lisa and Scott Blank, and Laura and Gene Finn. They will treasure their rich history with “Unc” and will feel the void every family gathering where his presence will be missed.  His six grandnieces and nephews also brought him much joy and pride as he watched them celebrate each of life’s milestones and saw each of them develop into beautiful young adults.  He will miss not being part of what is yet to come.  And of course, his honorary brother and sister, Jim Kirchen and Sharon Weber along with their spouses, Ann and Mike, were part of many crazy and joyous times in Joe’s life.

Joe equally adored and loved Terrie’s family and said repeatedly that he could never ask for better in-laws; they were as much his family as was his. Bonnie (Vogel) and Lyle Klockow brought the family together often and they made each holiday special.  Their home was the scene of many a ferocious canasta and poker games, but most of all, lots of love and laughs.  He and his sister-in-law, Wendy Kopplin, were the catalyst of all mayhem at family gatherings.  Wendy followed Joe to heaven just a few days after his passing and we figure it was so that they could continue to stir the pot while shining down upon us!

Joe leaves behind Wendy’s loyal, loving husband, John Kopplin, along with their three witty and thoughtful adult children Tyler (wife Beth and son Calvin), Kayleigh Kopplin and Jordan Kopplin; Terrie’s big-hearted brother Jayme and Dawn Klockow along with the dynamic duo of Emma and Karmyne; and her older brother Monte and Sheila Klockow with their amazing “Colorado Family”, Rhiannon and Scott Cochran (plus five), Nathan, and Corey and Lacey (plus four).  His nieces, nephews, grandnieces/nephews gravitated to him because he loved to listen to their thoughts, partake in their antics, discuss their futures, and make them laugh, and in return they brought him much delight.

Joe had many favorite annual events including his family’s bagna càuda gathering on Christmas Eve, the Vogel Family Christmas celebration, sausage making where he was Lee’s concigliere, and last, but not least, he wouldn’t miss spring ball in Florida where he clearly was the #1 fan, instigator, sideline manager, batting coach and umpire antagonist for every game, which created lasting memories with John, JP, the rest of the family and team.

Wherever Joe went, he made fast friends, he gathered them from every walk of life.  Any opportunity to get together with special friends or crash Terrie’s Girl’s Night was certainly going to be a night to remember.  Joe created beautiful memories, hysterical moments, and enduring bonds everywhere he went.

Joe served his country both in the military and working for the Department of Defense and USPS.  He was proud of his accomplishments as the Wisconsin State Representative and Arbitration Advocate for the Mail Handlers Union and continued warm-hearted relationships with many he worked with and served.

Joe left government work to become one of the city’s most beloved and respected night club owners and operators of Club Havana, Bad Genie, Riverwalk Bistro and Fanatics.  To this day, his Havana Boys and staff still reach out to reminisce and laugh about the tough but gentle person Papa Joe was to each of them.

The life of the party may have left us, but we will never stop hearing his laugh or remembering his stories.  This world will always seem a little emptier and quieter, but the bagna cauda and card tables in heaven just got a little louder and a whole lot more fun.

Joe’s family would like to express their sincere appreciation for all the prayers, cards, visits, messages, and many other acts of kindness shown during the time of his brief illness and passing.

Visitation will be held at Wisconsin Memorial Park “Chapel of Chimes”, 13235 W. Capitol Dr., on Saturday, December 5, 2020, 1-3 PM with service to follow.  Due to Covid-19 and for the health and safety of all, social distancing and face coverings are required.  In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Melanoma Foundation are appreciated.

Heritage Funeral Homes is Serving the Family


  1. Jackie Wszalek November 14, 2020 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    BEAUTIFUL CAPTURE OF A BEAUTIFUL LIFE! He lives forever in my heart.

  2. Dennis and Jean Dick November 14, 2020 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Very glad we had the opportunity to know Joe.

  3. Janet & John November 15, 2020 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Beautiful tribute ! He will be missed, but never forgotten ❤️

  4. David Wargula November 15, 2020 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Laughter and grief, simultaneously, what a testament! I’m sorry for everyone’s loss but also very glad that Joe was able to affect so many in such a special way during the course of his life. Here’s to the cosmic bagna cauda where Joe deserves a choice seat!

  5. Judy and Carl Wargula November 15, 2020 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Joe was a life force, never to be forgotten. We shared some wonderful times and he was an amazing, witty man. Her will be missed. Our love to all.

  6. Gail Greuel November 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Such a wonderful person had a very short life but will be remembered in all of our hearts forever. I’ll treasurer all my childhood memories of staying by Auntie Anne and Uncle Leo and spending time with Joe on many, many occasions. Sending sympathy, love and prayers to Terrie and Joe’s entire family.

  7. Guy Amacher November 15, 2020 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Joey was like my long lost brother..we shared some very interesting if not fascinating “adventures”. His absence came way too quick..too sudden. He will be a subtle yet constant influence in my life and future adventures for all my days. Always loved..always remembered and memories never forgotten.

  8. Jan Van Rens November 16, 2020 at 12:59 am - Reply

    A fitting tribute to Joe and all that he stood for! He packed in a lot in his short lifetime. To Terrie and all Joe’s family, I send my heartfelt sympathy and love.

  9. Dave Stenson November 16, 2020 at 3:34 am - Reply

    Joe was “One of a kind”, and truly “the catalyst of all mayhem” with all who knew him. I will never forget the great times we had together, as co-workers, and Union Brothers at the USPS. His mannerisms and strengths were an inspiration to all. ‘Til we meet again, my brother

  10. Bill & Luanne Dye November 17, 2020 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Beautiful tribute! We were so blessed to have known “Uncle Joe”. We will forever cherish all the Florida baseball trips and all the great times spent on Deerfield! Much love and sympathy to you all!

  11. Karmyne Klockow November 17, 2020 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Let me just start out by saying uncle joe was such a great human being and will never be forgotten from his great sense of humor to his awesome fashion. I’ll never forget late nights at the condo playing pick up sticks and cracking jokes or sharing a nacho bowl at a brewers game and watching movies on the couch. no matter how down you were uncle Joe could always put a smile on your face. I remember waking up early with uncle Joe and making eggs for aunt Terrie and Emma and drinking chocolate milk with breakfast while cracking jokes and having great conversations and that funny picture in the dining room with the little guy eating noodles that always made me laugh and playing cards at the dining room table and the two of us talking about sports and school. he knew how to make anyone laugh and just feel like an overall better person and he was such an amazing person. thank you

  12. Cheryl and Tim November 22, 2020 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Joe was the kind of guy that made you feel like family the first time you met him. His infectious laugh and beautiful smile will be dearly missed. He was definitely one of a kind and heaven is lucky to have him.

  13. Mike Murphy November 23, 2020 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Joe was a great guy, one of my best friends ever. I have very fond memories of working with him in the union office at the Post Office.
    RIP Brother.
    Mike Murphy

  14. Bill {Billy} Szeflinski November 23, 2020 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    So sad to hear about Joey. He was one of my best friends as we grew up on 1st st.I wished we had a chance to get together to talk about those times.Peace to the Zanotti family.

  15. Doug Kay November 23, 2020 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you Joe for all the good times and wonderful memories, you were truly a “south sider”. You could light up a room, or a bar, with your incredible personality and that wonderful laugh that just made everyone around you feel like we belonged with you. My heart goes out to Terrie, she knew you better then anyone.
    Rest in peace brother, see you on the other side.

    Doug Kay

  16. Robert Zanotti November 24, 2020 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    So Sorry to hear the news about Cousin Joey. Lots of fun stories and good times were told over the years.

    My two boys Robert and Chadwick, wanted to go to work for cousin Joey, at the Club Havana.

    Just one little problem, they were 12 & 16 and lived in Texas.We always laugh telling the story, of leaving the lakeside fireworks
    and walking past the Club Havana,in which there was a line out the door and cousin Joey was outside directing traffic.It was quite the party on
    on the sidewalk at 1 am. I wanted to get a job at the Club.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family and as we all know, Cousin Joey is no longer with us but not forgotten.

    Brew town is very Sad.

    Robert/Chadwick and Bob

  17. Dean Nolden November 25, 2020 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Terrie – I just learned about Joe’s passing and your sister’s too. I am so sorry and praying for you and your family during such a tough and unfair time. Stay well and hope to see you soon! Love Dean

  18. Dianne L Kasprzak November 29, 2020 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    Terri, we where so lucky to have the Zanotti family in our lives. My girls and I have such wonderful memories with you all. I want you to know that I’m sure Joe is smiling down on you for the beautiful memorial you gave of him. I am so sorry for your loss of Joe, the love of your life, and also your sister. They are both together looking out for you in heaven until you are together again…

  19. Timothy John Elverman December 4, 2020 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Terrie and Joe were our “new best friends” when we moved to Lyon Court Condominiums in 1999. You could not ask for more loving and caring neighbors. We are SO sad to hear about Joe’s passing, but we share the belief that Joe made everyone around him feel happy and loved. We are so grateful that Joe was a part of our lives, and hope that Terrie will take some comfort in knowing that he brought joy and happiness to all of us. Our condolences to Terrie. She is a treasure too!!

  20. Reggie & Linda Carlson December 5, 2020 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Joe was such a wonderful friend. Are hearts are aching at the thought of never being able to see him again. What a treasure he was. We are both so glad to have had him be a part of our lives. There will certainly never be another Joe – can’t imagine anyone even coming close. Much love and condolences to Terrie.

  21. Michelle Troscon December 5, 2020 at 10:44 am - Reply

    What a beautiful memorial slideshow! ❤️ I was shocked and saddened by the passing of Joe. I have numerous warm-hearted memories of Joe, many filed with laughter. Sending my deepest condolences and hugs.

  22. Kevin and Nora Nelson December 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    We only knew Joe and Terrie for the last 7 years and I wish it had been for the last 50 years.
    Joe was the guy that I would go with to watch our major sports teams games, have our favorite chicken wings and cocktails, and talk of good music and movies.
    My boys always would ask if Uncle Joe was joining us whenever we went out.
    When we got together to watch the NFL draft ,Joe would always cook up one of his favorite dishes which was always outstanding.
    If I needed someone of professional expertise Joe was my first go to guy.
    Like most who knew him I will miss his great smile and laugh.
    Football on Sunday will never be the same without my good buddy. .
    I know he is with us still pushing for the Brewers to win a World series!
    Rest in peace my good friend.

  23. Josh Nelson December 16, 2020 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Incredible is not a big enough word to describe Joe as a person. The Nelson family consider Joe as one of our own. My brother and I called him “uncle Joe” because we had just grown so close to him during the time we knew him. We will never forget watching Packers, bucks, and Brewers games with him always bringing an intense passion and joy to everything he did. Joe was one of those guys that understood people and made you feel like family the moment you met him, and that was no different for my brother, father, and myself. I have a feeling he had that relationship with everybody he came into contact with. I’ve met very few people in my life who consistently made me laugh until my stomach hurt, never without a hilarious story, or be as incredibly generous as Joe. Joe is one of a kind and we miss him everyday.

    I know he is up above, sipping on the best Chateau Margaux, and smoking a big ole Cohiba resting comfortably!

    To one of the best!

    Rest in peace Uncle Joe

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