Obituary: Denise Zoolalian

Denise Ruel Zoolalian. – Courtesy photo

Dec. 4, 1932 – Jan. 21, 2020

Denise Ruel Zoolalian, age 87 and former long-time Monrovia resident, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Jan. 21, 2020 in Los Angeles. She was a dedicated and loving wife, mother and grandmother. She lived a life full of energy, curiosity, generosity and giving compliments! Born Dec. 4, 1932 in Montreal into a French-Canadian home, Denise was the eldest of two children.

From a young age, she loved adventure and travel, such as riding horses bareback in the city and leaving home at age 18 for new frontiers. She worked for Sabena Airlines in New York City, traveled to Europe alone and with her brother in the early 50s and worked for the American government in Japan where she met her future husband, Monrovia City Councilman Edward Zoolalian. They were married for 53 years before Ed’s passing in 2013.

After raising their three children, Denise went back to school and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in English in 1995. A long-time resident of Monrovia, California she loved teaching ESL at Monrovia’s Community Adult School and enjoyed being on the Monrovia Library Board from 1992-2005, helping create the new library. She also worked as a travel agent in Pasadena for many years, handling, amongst many others, Caltech’s travel needs and was also an editor for Pasadena based publisher NewSagePress.

Being a lover of classical music her entire life, she was an active volunteer for Coleman’s Chamber Music Association in Pasadena. Denise was also an amazing cook who loved to entertain and have friends over.

Denise will be greatly missed by her son Jim and his wife Michelle and their two children, Chloe and Dylan, daughters Pamela and Linda, and her partner Christopher. A memorial service to celebrate Denise’s life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 11 a.m. at Hollenbeck Palms Chapel, 573 S. Boyle Ave., Los Angeles.

Since she loved playing and listening to the piano and had attended several classes at PCC, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift in support of the Denise Zoolalian Memorial Scholarship at Pasadena City College. Please send donations made payable to the PCC Foundation to the following address and note the Denise Zoolalian Memorial Scholarship on the memo line: Pasadena City College Foundation 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. CDC 204 Pasadena, CA 91106. Donations can also be made online at

February 10, 2020

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