Sylvia Zanaria Gates

Resident of Alameda

Sylvia died peacefully at Alameda Hospital. She was preceded in death by her parents, Antonia and Giovanni Zanaria, her sister Linda Zanaria, her husband William James Gates and her son William John Gates. 

She is survived by her daughter Carol Gates Olney Dean, her grandsons Kevin Hulbert (Tess), Phillip W. Dean, William Scott Dean (Maria), her granddaughter Natalie Devora (Lynn Wood) and great-grandchildren Jewel Devora Wood, Kyle Dean and Geraldine (Den) Hulbert. 

There are countless other nieces, nephews and a myriad of friends and acquaintances both in the U.S. and Italy who remain behind to remember her fabulous Italian cooking (for which she rarely shared recipes), her gorgeous garden and her fun stories about Alameda. Among other things, she saw the Posey Tube built to replace a wooden bridge; at 16 she worked on the Midway at Neptune Beach; in the ’50s she saw South Shore and Harbor Bay (Bay Farm Island) created by dredging the San Leandro estuary (replacing the truck farms which once grew “sustainable, organic produce”). 

One of her favorite stories involved her 1932 trip to Italy with her father. A brief stop in Chicago involved riding in Al Capone’s car and later meeting him, long before he became infamous.

She always involved herself with school PTAs and kept an immaculate house in which she often entertained with sumptuous dinners. In later years she traveled frequently to Italy visiting relatives in the Piemonte and Genova regions and traveling throughout Europe. In addition to being a homemaker she worked for 13 years as a bookkeeper at what is now known as Holy Names University in Oakland. 

For the past 12 years, Phillip Dean was her “right-hand man” driving her around, running errands, maintaining the garden and in the past five years, serving as her daytime caretaker and supervisor of other caregivers. A benefit of that is that she was able to remain in her own home until late February of this year. 

Her last few months have seen her in the Golden Age Center on Harbor Bay — her room overlooking the Bay where she could watch airplanes take off from Oakland Airport. The administrators, caregivers and clients all came to appreciate her. 

A longtime colleague and friend of Carol’s shared this wonderful observation of Sylvia: “Sylvia’s strength was inspiring, and her gracious manners were always a model to follow. I’m sure she is busily arranging Heaven to make it more to her liking.” Amen.

No funeral arrangements are planned. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS), Holy Names University or a charity of your choice. 

Greer Family Mortuary and Cremation Services   FD 1408