What will city be without Buzz?

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Buzz Zancanella isn’t much for drawing attention to himself.

Glenwood Springs’ water maintenance coordinator doesn’t like to talk about himself, nor does he like to spout off his accomplishments.

Still, Zancanella is receiving a lot of attention as he nears his retirement from the city of Glenwood Springs – a career that spans a whopping 36 years of service, working with the elements – electricity, fire and water – along the way.

In other words, “Buzz is the city of Glenwood Springs,” said Pat Zeitz, resource technician for the city.

But even if Zancanella doesn’t want attention, no matter. Other people are singing his praises.

“I feel privileged to work with someone of Buzz’s caliber,” said Buddy Burns, Glenwood’s waste water utilities supervisor, who’s worked with Zancanella for the past 17 years.

“He’s so familiar with our water system. He’s the first one we call for his knowledge whenever we have a problem.”

Like other city employees, Burns is going to miss Zancanella.

Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson agreed.

“He’s been a fixture in the city public works department since I was in first grade,” said Wilson with a smile, poking a little fun at Zancanella nearing retirement age. “Buzz is always at the forefront, always on the scene to help out, whatever needs to be done.”

Zancanella didn’t want much made of his retirement

“He doesn’t want recognition,” Burns said.

“He didn’t even want to have a party,” added Zeitz.

But City Hall will be the setting for Zancanella’s farewell bash from 1 to 2:30 p.m. this Friday, March 7, when his co-workers give him a send-off to remember. The public is invited to join in along with Zancanella’s family and friends for cake and congratulations.

Born in Glenwood

Zancanella was born in downtown Glenwood Springs at Hopkins Hospital at 8th and Bennett.

His birth certificate claims Zancanella’s first name is Lawrence, but that didn’t stick.

“Buzz’s sister couldn’t pronounce `brother,’ so she’d say `Buzz’ and it took,” said Zancanella’s wife, Gracie.

Zancanella graduated from Garfield County High School in 1958, and started volunteering for Glenwood’s volunteer fire department in 1959.

The only chunk of time he spent away from Glenwood Springs was from 1961 to 1966, when he was in the Navy – and met and married Gracie. They returned to Glenwood in 1966 and Zancanella began his long career with the city, working for the city’s electric company for 11 years, and as lieutenant and then chief for the Glenwood Springs volunteer fire department.

He became the city’s paid fire chief in 1977 until 1985, where he began working for the Glenwood Springs Water Department.

That’s why Zancanella will be hard to replace: The man has history.

“They’ll probably have to hire a couple people to fill his job,” said police chief Wilson. “It’s going to be a heck of a transition when Buzz leaves.”

Looking ahead

With retirement, Gracie Zancanella said her husband will have more time to spend with their three grown daughters and two granddaughters. He’ll stay active with his hobbies of collecting Glenwood Springs photos and memorabilia, woodworking, and the fine art of blowing bubbles. Zancanella is known to neighbor children as “The Bubble Man” for the enormous bubbles he manages to create.

And speaking of neighbors, Zancanella will have more time to dedicate to being a good one.

“It’s important to him to be a good neighbor,” said Gracie, saying he’s the one who can be found after a fresh snowfall snowblowing neighbors’ walkways, sidewalks and driveways.

So when Zancanella’s snowblower recently blew up, all the neighbors pitched in to buy him a new one, she said.

“I may be retiring as a city of Glenwood Springs employee,” said Zancanella, “but I am not done serving the community that has been so much a part of my life.”

He can likely count on it. His soon-to-be former boss Buddy Burns will make certain of that.

“Buzz has agreed that we can still call him when a water main breaks or we need help, even if it’s in the middle of the night,” Burns said.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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