Cover photo for Margaret Zamzow Priest's Obituary

Margaret Zamzow Priest

Margaret Zamzow Priest

Margaret Zamzow Priest passed away peacefully in her apartment on Thursday October 15, 2015 at the age of 89.

Margaret was born October 22, 1925 in Meridian Idaho to August L. and Carmalita Zamzow, one of six children.  She had fond memories of growing up in what was then rural Idaho.  At the age of seven, she became acutely ill from appendicitis.  Although the doctors offered little hope for her survival, her mother never lost hope and succeeded in nursing Margaret back to health.  Margaret never forgot the sacrifices her family made during that time, and she always attributed her survival to the loving care she received from her mother.  During her adult life, Margaret made it her special mission to make sure her mother always received the best care, and visited with her every day until she passed away at the age of 104.  In 1933, her father started what was to become the Zamzows stores.  She was very proud of the success of the business which was carried on by her brothers and later her nephews.

After graduating from high school, Margaret went to work for the Idaho Power Company in a clerical role.  She was proud of the work she did for Idaho Power and she was extremely pleased when many years later her oldest daughter, Mimzel, went to work for Idaho Power as the first female attorney in the company’s legal department.  Margaret also worked as a model for the Mode Department Store.  She married John D. Priest in Boise on September 17, 1947.  They lived in southeast Boise, where John and his brother built a successful machinery business.  Unable to have children of their own, they adopted three children to share their love with.

Margaret and John were strong believers in giving back to the community and provided their time and support to a wide variety of causes over the years.  They felt it was important for the people of Boise to have access to top quality health care and were long-time supporters of St. Alphonsus Hospital.  In the 1960s, Margaret served on the St. Alphonsus Auxiliary.  During that time she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a mastectomy.  She responded to that challenge by participating in the formation of the Idaho division of Reach to Recovery, a national program sponsored by the American Cancer Society.  In that program, she joined other survivors of breast cancer to offer support and compassion to new victims of the disease.  In the 1980s, she and John participated in starting St. Al’s annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.  She enjoyed seeing the popularity and success of that event grow over the years and attended every Festival since its inception, helping to organize and host many of the events.  In 1992, Margaret established the John D. and Margaret Z. Priest Scholarship through St. Alphonsus to provide financial assistance to nursing students.  She went on to serve on St. Al’s Foundation Board and, in 1995, she was selected as the St. Alphonsus distinguished citizen.

Margaret and John were also big supporters of Bishop Kelly High School.  In the 1970s, when the high school was struggling financially, she and John worked with other community leaders to establish what has become the annual Bishop Kelly Winner’s Choice dinner and auction event, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school over the years.  After her husband passed away in 1985, Margaret honored his memory by funding an annual scholarship to BK in his name.  In 2002, she was honored with the Order of the Knight award for her work in furthering the interests of the Bishop Kelly Foundation and high school.

Margaret was a founding member of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in 1947 and remained deeply involved in the parish throughout her life.  She volunteered her time on the parish council and countless other boards, activities, and committees over the years.  In 1999, she received the Fr. Peplinski Award for her years of service to the parish.

Some of her other activities included membership on the Fundsy Board and serving on the Idaho Catholic Foundation Board.

She is survived by her son Shad Priest (Doreen), daughter Carma Ortiz (Richard), grandson A.J. Terry (Karia), son-in-law Lynn Terry, and her sister Evelyn Warren.  She was preceded in death by her husband, John, her daughter, Mimzel, and four of her siblings.

A viewing will be held at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 20, followed by a vigil at 6:00 p.m.  Funeral services will be at Our Lady of the Rosary on Wednesday, October 21, at 1:00 p.m.


The family suggests memorial contributions to the Bishop Kelly Foundation, St. Alphonsus Foundation, or cancer research.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Margaret Zamzow Priest, please visit our flower store.

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