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Citizens of the Year

Marie and Bob Zakeer

May 2, 2011
Twist and Shout
wist & Shout congratulates Bob and Marie Zakeer, the 20011 Citizens of the Year and the Parade Marshals for the annual Frontier Days Parade! We met with Bob and Marie to discuss their honor and the many reasons they’ve made Fort Dodge and it’s people a high priority in their life.

Congratulations! How does it feel?

“We are so very humbled,” said Marie. “It’s a true honor- and a complete surprise.”

Owners and operators of Zakeers’, a family style restaurant in Fort Dodge for over 40 years, they were presented with their ‘hats’ in mid- April- in - of course, the restaurant- by Mike Mulroney, who is a member of the committee in charge of the Parade Marshall selection. Mulroney said the choice was an easy one, because of their service to the community. “In 1964 they headed up a fundraiser for Corpus Christi to buy wrestling mats- and since then they have giving back to the community in many ways.

“They offer Thanksgiving meals and have helped with various community fundraisers, without asking for a bit of recognition,” said Mulroney. “They do it- because it’s a nice thing to do.”

While they both can still be seen at the restaurant; their son Tommy and his wife Jayce have taken over the day to day operations. There are many days you’ll still find them there; cooking and greeting their many loyal customers.

The restaurant business has been part of Marie’s life- almost as far back as she can remember. Her father had the Sunrise Café in Morningside, near Sioux City. Killed at the age of 42 in a hunting accident, he left five daughters ranging in age from five to sixteen. “Everyone says I am like my dad, and inherited his love for restaurant work,” said Marie.

Bob and Marie met in 1956 on a blind date. “We went to the annual Sweetheart Ball in Sioux City.” They were married in 1957 and moved to Fort Dodge following their marriage. In 1961 they bought the restaurant which was known as the Country Kitchen, and in 1975 they changed the name to Zakeers. “I love to cook and I love good food,” said Marie. “If I don’t like a dish, I won’t cook it or serve it.” She added, “but its our home-cooked food that brings in the crowd, and our reputation.”

She smiled, “we’ve seen a whole generation come and go- people would bring their children, now those children are bringing theirs.” She said they have so many wonderful memories- of so many people; “too numerous to name.”

Marie has belonged to Catholic Daughters and is a 50 year member; “Eve Rubenstein brought me in!” Marie has enjoyed sending birthday cards to people whose birthdays and anniversaries she sees in the Sunday paper; ‘You won’t believe the letters I’ve received because of this.”

She added that she has enjoyed PEO immensely, and has enjoyed bringing in younger members herself. Bob was a lifetime member of the Elks club, until their closing, and is a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus and serves as a 4th degree Knight.

Fort Dodge

Marie said she has loved living in Fort Dodge. “Fort Dodge is a great place to live- it is filled with caring and loving people.” She said she thinks Fort Dodge has a lot to offer, “and life is what you make it wherever you go.”

She added that she would like to see more opportunity for the young people, employment-wise. “There seems to be a demand for minimum wage work, but very few are able to manage on a better than minimum wage job. Consequently, they leave for greener pastures in order to survive.”

Another big part of Bob and Marie’s life has been Corpus Christi Church; now Holy Trinity Parish. For many years she and Bob would visit the County Home during Christmas time with a group of people; taking gifts and ice cream and cake.

They are both excited to be in the parade, and looking for people they know, friends and of course customers- that are now friends.

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