We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Harwood Cremation and Funeral Services
Ben Zamarripa, 90, passed away May 20, 2022. He was born to Leo and Helen Zamarripa on April 16, 1932, in Florence, Colorado. Ben was raised in Florence, as part of a large family with nine brothers and two sisters.
After graduation in 1950 from Florence High School, where he excelled in athletics, Ben joined the Navy where he was awarded among other honors the Korean Service Award (with two bronze stars). He was stationed on the USS Arikara, a Navy tugboat that achieved a heroic rescue of seven men trapped in 30 foot waves after their ship had capsized. He next served aboard the USS Hanson. He remembered the cloud of smoke in his face when the first A-Bomb was tested in the South Pacific.
After four years, he returned to Florence where he met the love of his life, Clara. They were married October 4, 1954. They moved to Gill, Colorado, to live with Clara’s parents where Ben received his teaching degree from University of Northern Colorado. After a year of teaching in the small southwestern town of Egnar, they returned to Florence where Ben embarked on a 28 year career as a teacher, coach and administrator.
He began his career teaching special education students. During his career he obtained his master’s degree from Western State University, taught at all grade levels and held various administrative positions. However, teaching and coaching were his true calling. Over the years he taught hundreds of kids who all knew and admired Coach Zam. He had a way of playing games with kids and they wouldn’t even realize he was teaching them at the same time. As an assistant coach, in every sport Florence offered, he helped to develop each kid’s love for the game and to develop their talents to succeed.
Ben became Head Coach of Florence girls basketball, and his teams won the Colorado State AA Championship in his first year, 1983 and his last year, 1988. Ben was named Colorado AA Coach of year both times for both of those seasons. He compiled an astonishing 142 and 13 win/ loss record during his time as head coach.
Ben was really known as Ben and Clara because they went everywhere together. They built a good life in Florence and raised their family, Mark and Joan. There were lots of good times and plenty of fun. Ben was also a part time mailman, back when they walked the route, so he pretty much knew everyone in town. He served on the Florence City Council. He had so many friends and truly enjoyed his life. He loved his Nuggets, Broncos and Rockies and of course he liked going to Cripple Creek with Clara.
After retirement they embarked on a new life – helping raise their grandchildren Danny and Jill. They were no longer Ben and Clara, now they were Papoo and Guyguy. Danny and Jill, and all of their friends, got to experience Ben’s special magic with children. He won countless more games as he helped coach the grandkids in every sport they played. He never missed a game, whether it was YMCA or High School. Most recently his great granddaughter, Annabelle, was blessed with his attention.
Ben is survived by his son, Mark, (Sana), grandchildren Danny (Maria), Jill, great granddaughter Annabelle, daughter Joan, and special friend Pam Massey. Also brothers Tom, and John and sisters Marge and Helen.
Ben was preceded in death by his wife Clara, infant daughter, Maryetta, parents Leo and Helen, and brothers Ernie, Alfred, Leo, Adolph, Arthur, Robert and Edward.
Memorial Mass will be celebrated Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 10:00AM, at St. Benedicts Catholic Church, 622 W. 2nd, Florence, CO 81226. Inurnment to follow at Union Highland Cemetery, Florence, CO