Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

Mary Zanto


Mary Zanto, mother, widow, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend left us peacefully on April 21, 2018, at the age of 91.

Mary Katherine Eloff was born in Great Falls, Mont., on July 18, 1926, to Tom Eloff and Kate Wolf Eloff. Mary grew up as a farm girl in Pleasant Valley near Fort Benton. She met her husband to be, Jim Zanto, at the Fort Benton hospital where he was recovering from an appendectomy. They were married on December 1, 1945, and were blessed with three sons as they began their farm life on the Square Butte Bench. They later moved into the community of Geraldine where the boys attended school. They were a beautiful couple who could definitely "cut a rug" on the dance floor.

Mary and Jim moved to Malta for a few years and then to Fort Benton in 1984 where Mary lived for the remainder of her life. She was a farm wife, worked as a caregiver for mentally disabled clients in Malta and became a CNA and worked in her dream job at the Fort Benton hospital. She was a helpful person with a wonderful sense of humor. She retired in 2004 and began working and volunteering at the local museums and Ag Center. She loved giving tours and sharing stories about the days when she was growing up. She was particularly proud of telling her great-grandchildren that she actually attended Shep's funeral. Mary loved telling stories about her father's voyage to America and found some relatives from the old country living in New York. She invited them to come to Montana for a visit and they came and she and Jim went to visit them a few years later. She was very fond of keeping track of all her family on Facebook, enjoyed scrapbooking historical family events and knitting scarves and beanies for newborns. She was a mother who kept her family close and enjoyed the holidays and playing cards or games.

She is survived by and will be dearly missed by her three sons: Barry (Ginger) Zanto, Chuck (Vilma) Zanto and Rick (Laura) Zanto; her grandchildren: Brent (Jody) Zanto, Brittnee (Oscar) DeLaRosa, Alicia (Chuck) Carter, Darin (Emily) Zanto, Kyle Zanto and Garrett (Rheanna Messerly) Zanto and her great-grandchildren Kaitlyn and Bryson Zanto, Austin and Tanner DeLaRosa, Sicily Carter and Peyton Zanto; her brother Larry (Mary) Eloff and niece Diane (Ed) Goldhahn. She was preceded in death by her husband, sister, mother, and father. This family has been very fortunate to have this loving woman in their lives for all these years. Memorials may be made to the Ag Center or the Fort Benton Museum.

The Mass will be at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Saturday, May 19, at 11 a.m. with the burial following at the Fort Benton Cemetery. Benton Funeral Home has been entrusted with services and arrangements. Please visit Mary's online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for her family at


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