The Tucson Jewish community was stunned by the news that Scott Zorn, 59, died Jan. 1, 2019, in Akron, Ohio, with hundreds of Facebook messages quickly going out to his wife, Julie; children, Haley and Dylan; and in-laws, Tucsonans Kathy and David Unger.
Zorn was the director of children, youth and camping services at the Tucson Jewish Community Center from 2006 until the family moved to Akron in 2017, where he became the program director and children and youth director at the Shaw JCC.
“Scott was the recipient of the Federation’s Community Professional Award in 2016 in recognition of the dynamism and warmth he brought to his professional role at the Tucson JCC,” read a Jan. 2 email from the office of Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.
Todd Rockoff, president of the Tucson J, wrote on Facebook: “We will always remember Scott for the joy and music he brought to Camp and Shabbat. The thousands of children and families whose hearts he touched through his years in Tucson and then in Akron will miss him dearly. We know through the time that we shared with him, that a piece of him will continue to live on in all of us.”
Zorn took pride in his role as “Shabbat Scott,” engaging children in joyous singing and guitar music. One of the places besides the JCCs that he performed that role was Tucson’s Congregation Or Chadash. “Scott was a person who shared his joy of life and music and Judaism with the whole community and was able to transmit it to children in a wonderful way,” says COC’s Cantor Janece Cohen.
Although his death was a shock, she says, “His personality reminds us that we go on and we do our best to honor his memory by bringing that life and light into everything we do.”
Many Facebook posts remarked on Zorn’s love for his wife and family, as well as the vitality he brought to his professional life.
Eric Smith, a former counselor and unit head at the Tucson J’s camp, wrote, “For 9 years I had the pleasure to work for you, learn from you and call you my friend. You cared more than most, loved more than most and worked harder than most. The way you loved Julie and the kids is how I now model my love for my wife and son. You are my inspiration. You are what I strive to be.”
Zorn was born Lloyd Scott in Jericho, New York, to Harold and Adele Zorn. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was 5, after their home burned in a fire. He met his wife, Julie, in Los Angeles. With a master’s degree in counseling psychology and a baby on the way, in 2004 they moved to where he began working for Jewish Family & Children’s Services. After taking on his position at the Tucson J, he participated in national leadership training programs for the Jewish Community Centers Association.
Zorn was predeceased by his father, Harold Zorn. Survivors include his wife, Julie Zorn; children, Haley and Dylan; mother, Adele Zorn of Las Vegas; sisters Susan (Barry) Franklin of Phoenix and Rochelle Zorn of Las Vegas; and father- and mother-in-law, David and Kathryn Unger of Tucson.
Services and interment were in Ohio.
Julie Zorn’s brother, Jeffrey A. Unger, started a GoFundMe campaign, www.gofundme.com/zorn-family-fund, to help defray the unexpected expenses, which raised more than $22,000 from almost 200 donors in its first day.