October 7, 1946 — March 17, 2019
On Sunday, March 17, 2019, Marilyn Zerba (née Mills) passed away at the age of 72. Marilyn was born on October 7, 1946, to Allen and Margaret Mills in Redmond, OR. The first born of two daughters, she was adorable and often referred to as “The Gerber Baby” and as a teenager …“Betty Boop!!”
At six years old, she moved with her parents and her little sister Enid to Walla Walla, where she attended Edison Elementary, Pioneer Middle School and was a cheerleader at Walla Walla High School. After graduating high school, Marilyn married and had her son, Shawn Chandler. Marilyn and her family lived in Iowa, Colorado and California. She returned to Walla Walla with her son and attended Walla Walla Community College and became a registered nurse. Marilyn worked at Elzora Manor for many years as the Director of Nursing.
She met the love of her life, Cecil Zerba of Milton Freewater on a blind date and they married in 1983. Cecil’s son Jeff made it a family of four and they lived together in Milton Freewater.
In the late 80s, Cecil and Marilyn became entrepreneurs and started Zerba Gardens (nursery) and the business flourished. In the late 1990s they considered retiring and sold Zerba Gardens. Retirement was short lived when over a bottle of wine with friends they decided to start Zerba Cellars which grew into one of the premier boutique wineries in the Walla Walla Valley. Marilyn quickly became a well-known and respected fixture in the tasting room where she was never without a smile and always surrounded by her beloved dogs. Wine events became a major focus of Marilyn’s and she orchestrated them with ease and grace.
Marilyn was passionate about her family ~ hosting birthday parties, Thanksgiving and her most favorite holiday, Christmas.
She is survived by her husband, Cecil; sons, Shawn (Tamara), Jeff (Linda) and Travis (Heather); sister, Enid; nephew, Justin; and her four adoring grandchildren, Michael, Carolyn, Ethan and Zach. We will miss her always.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to one of Marilyn’s favorite charities Blue Mountain Humane Society, Wounded Warrior Project, or the National Stroke Association.
A celebration of life will be scheduled at a future date.