For more than six decades, Leo Zanger and his wife Ruth have been sitting on a massive secret. They’ve kept it hidden for a long time and through many life changes. Together they raised twelve children and had welcomed many grandchildren to the family since then. But they never expected their family tree to get as big as it did by the time they reached their golden years.
By the time Leo reached his 79th year, they had welcomed the 100th grandchild into their family, and Leo and Ruth could not have been happier about how prolific their family had become. The 100th and most special grandchild to be born into the family was tiny Jaxton Leo Zanger. Although their family is bigger than most, the most amazing thing that Leo and Ruth cherish is their long and happy marriage.
The family tree has extended to include Ruth and Leo, their twelve children, 53 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Jaxton’s parents, Austin and Ashleigh, had no idea their baby was the 100th Zanger to come into the world. But as soon as the family historian Donna Zanger took a close look at the family’s massive family tree, she saw the truth of the situation and just how special little Jaxton was. There had even been a competition going on about who would produce the 100th child in the family and “win” the race to grandeur.
Donna took on the role as the family historian with glee. She is 39-years-old and the eldest grandchild. Since she adores her grandparents, Leo and Ruth, she wanted to keep everything organized since the family was growing so quickly. She also wanted to manage the practical things like where everyone was living and their phone numbers. So she’s not just a historian but the family secretary.
The majority of the Zangers kept close to home in Quincy, Illinois. But a few have had an adventurous streak and set out on some adventures. Some of the family members even went into business together. And Leo, the head of the family, still runs a thriving real estate business that employs a daughter, four sons, and two daughters-in-law.
Donna adores her family reunions. They’re a huge event, given the size of the Zanger family. The family celebrates the major holidays together including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. But no family member owns a house large enough to contain the entire brood, so they rent the church hall for the family dinners.
In an interview with TODAY, Donna said: “When we get together, it’s big. It’s really big. There are a lot of people – a lot of kids – but that’s what it’s all about. We always have a really good time.”
Because the grandchildren are now “coming of age,” they are looking to get married and start their own families. This could not make Leo and Ruth happier. They love the idea of their family getting bigger and bigger. Because the secret to their happiness is “the more, the merrier.”
As more babies are born into the Zanger clan, Leo looks forward to welcoming them with open arms because “to have a new one is a wonderful thing.”
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