Robert J. Zelli, 72, of Gahanna, passed away November 21, 2018.
Bob was born November 22, 1945 to Virgil and Lucy (Morconi) Zelli. He grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, with sister Adelaide and brother Edward. In high school in Trenton he met his wife, Roberta Ann Weeks.
He attended Rider College while starting his banking career at New Jersey National Bank. There he helped launch one of the first MasterCard programs in the country.
He and Bobbi moved to Hamilton Square, New Jersey, where they began raising their two children Deborah (born 1971) and Jeffery (born 1974).
In 1983, he moved the family to the Columbus, Ohio, area to work for Bank One. They settled in Gahanna, Ohio, a nearby suburb. The family attended St. Matthew the Apostle Church, and the children attended St. Matthew School.
Bob found great success at Bank One as it grew, acquiring other banks and eventually being acquired by JP Morgan Chase. He spent most of his career with the bank, as an employee and later as a consultant.
While he worked many hours and formed great friendships at the bank, his main role was as a family man. He provided well for his family, allowing Bobbi to stay at home, and encouraging the kids to prioritize learning, academic success, and enriching extracurricular activities.
Service to the church was important to him as well, and he dedicated his talents to programs at St. Matthew like weekly Bingo and the summer parish festival.
While working from home as a consultant, Bob assumed an unexpected role as caregiver to Bobbi's father, Robert Weeks, who lived in an addition to the house in Gahanna that Bob built for "Weeks" to allow him to age at home. Being at home during the day, Bob changed bandages, drove to doctor appointments, and was a companion to his father-in-law in his final years.
He assumed that role again for Bobbi, seeing her through several joint replacements, and caring for her through treatment for uterine cancer until her death in 2014.
Shortly after Bobbi's passing Bob got involved with the Perpetual Adoration program at St. Matthew, dedicating several hours each week, in the middle of the night, praying at the church and attending to the adoration of the eucharist. It was a comfort to him as he grieved, and it gave him a new understanding of his faith.
In 2016 his daughter Debby moved back to Columbus from Kansas, where she moved after graduate school. The suite in the addition to the house provided the perfect home for Deb, her two cats, and a very silly dog, Finn.
Sadly, in early 2017 Debby experienced a recurrence of melanoma; while living in Kansas Deb had her own battles with breast cancer, and with melanoma, a result of her radiation treatment.
Bob once again stepped into the caregiver role: changing her bandages every single day, attending appointments with innumerable doctors, and offering Debby companionship and solace as she lived out her last months with a terminal diagnosis. It was heartbreaking for him. Debby found peace in October 2017.
Throughout these years, Bob was a mentor, teacher, and friend to son Jeff. They spent time together nearly every Sunday, What started as coming over to do laundry turned into a weekly habit, part visit, part working together on projects around the house.
Having shared the suffering of his loved ones though their own ordeals, it is a blessing that Bob passed away peacefully, dozing off in front of the TV in his favorite chair.
Bob will be deeply missed by his son Jeff, and his partner Joe Martin; by his brother Edward Zelli, and six nieces and nephews and their families; by sister Adelaide Heller, and his niece and nephew; and by friends and colleagues.
Visitation will be Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10am to 11am at St. Matthew, 807 Havens Corners Rd., Gahanna, OH 43230. A funeral mass will follow at 11am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Perpetual Adoration Program at St. Matthew Church.