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Mary Isabella Zemer Lively

August 3, 1925 ~ July 15, 2018 (age 92)
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Mary Isabella Zemer Lively

Former longtime Sonoma resident, Mary Isabella Zemer Lively, died on July 15, 2018, in Fairfield, CA.  She courageously fought right up until the end with three different kinds of cancer, being diagnosed in 2010 with Stage 3 Breast cancer.  Isabella, eldest daughter of Emmett and Mary Zemer was born in Ancon, Canal Zone (now Panama) on August 3, 1925, attended schools there, graduating in the class of 1943 with honors from Balboa High School.  She attended Boston University during WWII and returned to the Canal Zone to become Administrative Secretary to the Personnel Director of the Panama Canal Government.  In 1950 she relocated to San Francisco and worked in the Administrative Office of Safeway Stores Inc., where she met her future husband George M. Lively.  They were married in February 1956 in San Francisco and both began careers in the Graphic Arts Industry.  Her nickname, MIZ was created by her husband using the first initials of her maiden name Mary Isabella Zemer.  She was known as Miz until the end of her life.

She worked at Arcata Graphics for 25 years beginning as Executive Secretary to the Executive VP of both the Los Angeles and San Francisco plants.  At that time Arcata was the second largest printing company in the U.S.  Later she became Administrative Assistant in the SF Sales office.

In 1967 they purchased their first home in Sonoma on Carriger Road, where they planted a small vineyard in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  Here they entertained friends, family and business associates and Miz became a member and officer of the Valley of the Moon Dilettante Enological Society.  The grandchildren enjoyed visiting the countryside and swimming in their pool.  Miz was a volunteer at the Sonoma Valley Visitors' Bureau, a life member and docent of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and Sonoma League for Historic Preservation.  George and Miz were founding members of St. Leo's Church.  The Ladies' Guild made her an honorary member when she moved to Fairfield.  In 1989 they moved to Temelec to simplify their lifestyle when George's health declined as a result of his right leg being amputated in 1979 while visiting Miz's parents in Panama.  He died in 1991.

Isabella moved to a retirement community, Paradise Valley Estates in Fairfield, CA in 1999.  There she served on several committees, was on the staff of its newsletter, Elysian Fields for 10 years and an active participant in the water aerobics group, "The Aquanuts".

Her lifelong passions were the "love of the grape"; the culture and history of the Kuna Indians of Panama, becoming an avid collector of their mola textiles, donating the major part of her collection to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in 2009; and the lure of the seaside.  She maintained a lifetime correspondence with all she touched.

She is survived by her sister Phyllis Zemer Wright of San Jose, CA; stepdaughter, Tyrrell (Terry) Lively Lucas of Alexandria, VA; step-daughter-in-law, Jean Lively; nephews: David Zemer of Norway; James Wright of Santa Clara, CA; John Swenson of Minneapolis, MN; nieces: Connie Zemer Bumgarner of Auburn, CA; Julie Wright of San Jose, CA; 6 step-grandchildren; 5 step-great-grandchildren and one step-great-great grandson.

Private interment will be held at Sonoma Mountain Cemetery, Sonoma, CA.

At her request, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Arthritis Foundation,

Donations may be made to:

American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 42040, Oklahoma City OK 73123
Tel: 1-800-227-2345

Arthritis Foundation
1355 Peachtree St NE Suite 600, Atlanta GA 30309

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