Leo and Ruth Zanger recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. They have 12 children and (at last count) 135 (great)grandchildren!
Just one verse each day.
With 12 children, 55 grandchildren, 73 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren, Leo and Ruth Zanger from Quincy, Illinois, just welcomed their 147th descendant into the world. “We just love them all and they’re all so precious,” Leo told Today when they had hit the mark of 100 grandchildren in 2015.
On April 18, 2023, the couple celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. Their oldest daughter Linda is now 66, and their youngest child, Joe, is 38. He was born in 1984, and at the time already had 10 nieces and nephews who were older than he was.
50 lbs of ham, 10 turkeys, and 50 loaves of bread
The family members are very close to one another. Most of them live nearby and see each other often. Every Christmas or Easter gathering requires renting a large church hall and usually buying about 50 lbs of ham, 10 turkeys, 50 loaves of bread, and 10 gallons of drinks. The logistics of these family get-togethers are usually very smooth. The relatives share responsibilities among themselves.
“When we get together, it’s big. It’s really big,” says one of the couple’s daughters, Donna Zanger-Lane, who is the unofficial family chronicler, interviewed by Today. “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.”
She admits that remembering all the birthdays requires a very good memory.
“(Other family members) always say, ‘Since you already have all of the phone numbers, can you just text (or call) them and let them know about whatever the event is?’” Donna explained to the Herald-Whig. As time goes on, more and more of the Zangers’ grandchildren grow up and start their own families. “We could start our own town,” Leo jokes. “I expect there will be more. It wouldn’t surprise me any because there are a lot of young families there yet that are just getting started,” adds the proud grandfather, who tells Today that they welcome each new grandchild “as if it were their first.”
“The good Lord just sent them.”
Ruth stresses that she had no idea that their family would grow so large. However, the couple is very happy about it. “The good Lord has just kept sending them,” she told the Herald-Whig. And on whether they expect to expand their family further, Ruth said: “There is always room for one more.”
“There’s a Zanger in just about every field,” grandson Austin added with a smile.
Mr. and Mrs. Zanger have always taught their children the importance of family and family values. “We’re all really close. We get together a lot. (…) We spend a lot of time with each other. I know there are a lot of families half our size who only get together maybe once or twice a year,“Austin tells Whig. “It’s always fun,” says Kelly Sanger, Daniel’s wife.