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Beatriz Zita: Teacher, avid reader, loving mother and sister

Beatriz Zita

Teacher, avid reader, loving mother and sister

Beatriz Zita, a longtime resident of Claremont, died after a brief illness on Friday, March 27, 2015 at Pomona Valley Hospital. She was 84.

Mrs. Zita was born in 1930 in Argentina to Leopoldo Salazar and Elvira Riondet. She received her degree in English there and began her teaching career.

In 1960, she participated in a teacher exchange program that brought her to Ashland, Ohio to teach high school Spanish. Soon after, she met her future husband Donald Zita, who was a journalist for a local newspaper doing a story on the teacher exchange. He spotted Beatriz from across the room and instructed the photographer to get a picture of her. He wrote a profile piece on her and later asked her on a date. 

They married in 1963 and headed west to Claremont, where Don found work as a writer and editor at the Progress Bulletin, now the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Mrs. Zita began teaching Spanish at Alta Loma High School and continued her education at Claremont Graduate University, receiving a master’s degree in Spanish literature. She taught Spanish at Alta Loma High School for more than 20 years.

She became widowed in 1987 and returned to Argentina shortly thereafter. There, she married Carlos De Anquin, an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. De Anquin died in 1999. Beatriz returned to Claremont in 2000 for the birth of her granddaughter, Gina Zita Gonzales, and lived in Claremont for the remainder of her years.

From her in-law apartment behind her daughter’s house, she kept up-to-date on world news. Mrs. Zita loved reading, devouring newspapers daily and The New Yorker weekly, as well as books in both English and Spanish. She also enjoyed discussing politics and world events.

Although they lived on separate continents, Beatriz and her three sisters remained close throughout her life. They regularly sent her packages from Argentina, with magazines and international films on DVD. She returned the favor with frequent parcels from California. And every Sunday the three sisters in Argentina would gather at one of their homes for tea, a homemade dessert and an hour-long phone conversation with Mrs. Zita, which she would plan her Sundays around.

Beatriz also loved traveling and socializing. She fondly recalled visiting Italy with her first husband Don, where they were the first Zitas to meet his Italian cousins since his father had arrived in the United States in 1917. She also cherished memories of her trip with her sister Graciela back to their own mother’s birthplace in Collombey, Switzerland. There they met their mother’s relatives and were able to communicate with them in broken French.

Mrs. Zita is survived by her only daughter, Marcella Zita of Claremont; her granddaughter, Gina Gonzales of Claremont; her daughter’s partner, Ben Benjamin, and his children, Mika Benjamin-Uyeki and Tashi Uyeki Benjamin, all of Claremont; her three sisters, Besi Primo, Marta Salazar and Graciela Derdoy, as well as Graciela’s husband, Jorge Derdoy of Rio Cuarto, Argentina.

She also leaves her nieces and nephews, Jorge Derdoy, Silvina Derdoy and Fernando Benavidez; Federico Derdoy and Maria Ines Vidal; Claudina Primo and Daniel Triulzi; Alejandro and Vanina Primo of Argentina; and Valeria and Scott Winslow of Boston, Massachusetts.

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