The Honorable John A. Zottola
Age 63, of Fox Chapel, passed away peacefully on Monday, October 12, 2020, surrounded by family. Beloved husband of Marie Zottola (Dillon); father of John Zottola and Alyssa Zottola; brother of Annette Zottola and Mariann Delaney (Brian); uncle to Vincent and Domenica Delaney. Born and raised in Highland Park/Stanton Heights, John was part of a big loving family that spent Sundays around the table with food, family and conversation. After attending Central Catholic High School in Oakland, John attended the University of Pittsburgh, earning a B.A. in History, and then attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Starting out in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, John worked passionately as an assistant district attorney to seek justice for victims. After working in the District Attorney’s office, John decided to explore civil practice at the firm of Robb Leonard and Mulvihill, where he practiced civil defense for five years while also serving as Chairman of the Zoning Board. He served as Chief of Staff for Pittsburgh’s first female mayor, Sophie Masloff. After many years of public service, John decided to launch a successful campaign for judge. He was elected on his first try in 1993 and served on the Bench for 27 years.
John served both as a judge in the Criminal and Orphan’s Court Division. John was an even-tempered, level-handed jurist that was incredibly passionate about his work in the Mental Health Court and Veterans Court. He wanted to do more for the defendants who entered his courtroom, especially those suffering mental illness. He served as the judge for the mental health court for 8 years. He then specifically sought to help our veterans suffering mental illness and other disabilities by founding the Allegheny County Veterans Court. Throughout his work on both the mental health court and Veterans Court John saw individuals rotating through the criminal justice system not as just defendants, but people who needed prolonged effective help. He used to joke that Veteran’s Court was much like “Night Court” and that he was the referee to make sure that the individual got the best treatment and support they needed. As his dear friend Robert Del Greco Jr. said “Judge Zottola’s Veteran’s Court positively impacted so many lives and was the model for similar courts nationally. Johnny Z had an unparalleled judicial temperament and an extraordinary intellect. His steady hand and cordial essence will be sorely missed.”
Outside the court room, John loved spending time with his family. He was passionate about gardening and his fig tree. He loved to go for walks around his neighborhood and travel to visit his son in Chicago. John was a phenomenal cook and was known for fantastic dishes, always giving guests more than a day’s worth of leftovers. John was a proud member of the Spigno-Saturnia Italo-American Society, following in his father, Vince, and mother Judy’s, footsteps.
A private viewing and service will be held for the immediate family only. A celebration of life will take place at a later date when all of his family and friends can come together to reminisce and commemorate John’s spectacular and wonderful life. In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable donation to Veteran’s Leadership Program (VLP) https://www.veteransleadershipprogram.org; through his work with veterans, John became deeply involved with VLP and would prefer such support to be directed there. Arrangements by WEDDELL-AJAK FUNERAL HOME, Aspinwall.
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Veteran's Leadership Program (VLP)