Sitting on Art and Dee Zasio’s back deck, with its expansive views of the Main Lake, it’s impossible to imagine that Dee had to be “dragged to Canyon Lake kicking and screaming.” But what a difference three decades makes. Little could she and Art envision that, a little more than 30 years after moving here, they would be serving as grand marshals in the Fiesta Day Parade.
The couple has earned this honor through many years of involvement and service to the community via a variety of clubs and organizations. Dee is very active in the Woman’s Club, modeling in last week’s Fashion Show and helping organize the theme baskets.
She and Art are officers in the Fine Arts Guild: Dee as treasurer and Art as president. In that capacity, they have brought scores of concerts and summer picnics to the community, including helping to organize the military band concerts in recent years.
They’re also in the Yacht Club, Travel Club and Home Owners Club. Art sings with the Choraleers and is a past member of Canyon Lake Community Theatre. He also served on the POA’s Long Range Planning Committee, where he drew up plans for a 400-seat amphitheater at Holiday Harbor that nearly made it to the top of the list of capital improvements until a different POA Board of Directors came along with different priorities.
Dee, too, served on a POA committee – the Fiesta Day Committee – working with Joanna Spiller to mark vendor sites and other needed tasks. To this day, she helps sell food in the Woman’s Club booth at every Fiesta Day.
Dee was a charter member of the Republican Women’s Club and the Inland Empire Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation. She currently belongs to the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) and serves on the PEO California State Scholarship Selection Committee. Clearly committed to education, Dee also is involved with Friends of the Canyon Lake Library and helps with the Read Naturally Program at Tuscany Hills Elementary School.
But not all her involvements are so serious. There are many unofficial groups in Canyon Lake that do everything from playing bunco and bridge to dining out and working out.
Two groups of ladies Dee enjoys are the “Reel Chicks” (movie critics) and her “Martini Group.”
At one time she sang for the Riverside Master Chorale, but says she doesn’t have the voice for it anymore. Art still sings for the St. Vincent Ferrar Catholic Church choir. That common love for music explains how the couple became interested in helping the Woman’s Club buy a piano for the Lodge in 2001. Marlowe and Mavis Schafner instigated a fundraising concert for the piano, and that eventually led to their starting the Fine Arts Guild, of which Art and Dee are charter members.
But the couple hasn’t always been so involved in their community; and perhaps their story can be an inspiration to other residents who are contemplating what to do with their retirement years.
Like so many others, the Zazios initially came to Canyon Lake in the late 70s and early 80s to water ski. As a former U.S. Marines Corps pilot, Art had seen the lake while doing practice approaches to March Air Base. Then, as a commercial pilot for TWA, his flight engineer told him about Canyon Lake. He and Dee decided to come check it out, and ended up buying a house then and there on Meadow Lark Dr.
Their children were still in high school and junior high, so they used the house for water ski vacations. Dee remembers meeting Marlene (Lord) Cathro at the Village Store, at what is now Holiday Harbor. Then they rented the house out and started staying at Happy Camp. They loved the Campground side of the lake, so they sold their house and bought a lot on Strawberry Lane in 1983.
Dee really didn’t want to move to Canyon Lake. She was happily established in a lovely neighborhood in Mission Viejo and working as director of education at a church in the area. After they built their house and moved here permanently in 1984, she was offered a management position with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), where she worked until her retirement in 2007.
Art retired in 1994; so, invited by his friend, Bill Faulds, his first community involvement was with Canyon Lake Community Theatre. He was in a number of shows, but says his favorites were “Music Man” and “Into the Woods.”
Their first involvement as a couple was with the Travel Club, where they also served as officers. They have traveled extensively over the years, with the club and on their own.
Their home near Skipper’s Island has been the place to be every 4th of July; their children and grandchildren still gather on the back deck to ooh and aah over the fireworks. For a few years, Art served as “DJ” for the event, playing patriotic music on a large speaker system for neighbors and boaters to hear.
What do they love most about Canyon Lake? Art says he never tires of looking out at the lake. Dee says it’s the friends she’s made, and the many opportunities to meet people and get involved. Their retirement years have been rewarding in so many ways. And now one of those rewards is to ride as grand marshals in the May 23, 2015 Fiesta Day Parade.