Zelda Mary Zettwoch Hannan was born May 23, 1927 on Flood Street in the Ninth Ward, in the midst of the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, to a German river boat pilot and his French-Cajun wife. Zelda passed away 92 years later on May 31, 2019, in the midst of the greatest Mississippi River flood since 1927. Her life along the River between the floods likewise overflowed with torrents of love and a stream of descendants who are the people they have become because of her.
Zelda met her Irishman husband Edward Maxwell “Puggy” Hannan not long after his ship docked just up-River from Flood Street at the Port of New Orleans on his return from Navy service in World War II. They were married in 1947 at St. James the Major church, and continued their life together in the currents of the River, where Ed worked for a steamship company and Zelda played clarinet. They moved to a G.I. Bill-funded ranch home in Gentilly Woods, and had five children spread across 13 years. Zelda lost Ed in 1964 when their youngest was only 2, shortly after the family moved to Charles Drive in Chalmette and just a year before the floods of Betsy. She went on to raise all five of her children on her own, down the street from St. Mark’s church, bolstered by her profound Catholic faith, and living by the mottos “if you don’t expect anything, you’ll never be disappointed” and “if your children aren’t sick, nothing is wrong.” After her youngest entered school, Zelda went to work for the Department of Agriculture and retired at age 65 as a management analyst at the NASA Michoud facility. In her retirement, she volunteered with St. Mark’s after-school care and food bank programs. Katrina’s floods forced her from her home in St. Bernard, and she relocated to Covington on Riverside Drive, along the banks of the Bogue Falaya.
She loved feeding her family, fishing camps, Pete Fountain, doubloons, Glen Campbell and big band music, Christmas, Diet Coke, dachsunds and Scotties, Dopey the Dwarf, and bargain hunting. She housed grandchildren who needed shelter, counseled her own through the loss of spouses, and throughout her life exhibited grace, resolve and unremitting selflessness at every blessing and every adversity. She was enduring as the river’s flow, “never expected anything” in return, and inspired more people than she likely ever realized.
Zelda passed peacefully in her sleep after 92 years had run their course and carried her to the still depths beyond the Head of Passes, where all waters return. She was preceded in death by her husband Ed, father Capt. Louis Zettwoch, mother Evelyn Delhomme Zettwoch, brother Louis “LD” Zettwoch, and son-in-law James Moore. She is survived by her sister Jeanne Kay Tardo; brother-in-law James C. Campbell; her daughter Lynne Marie Moore, her sons Edward “Bubby” Maxwell Jr. (Rita), Jack Louis (Frances), Timothy Matthew (Laverne), and Mark Michael (Karen) Hannan; 14 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.
As the Mississippi River has fed its Delta, Zelda gave of herself to create her own delta that lives on and grows in her family. We are the islands that she has formed and the tributaries she has nourished. The currents of her strength and love have shaped us into the people we are, and the people we will become. As the River’s crescent defines our city, Zelda has defined all of us.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a visitation at Greenwood Funeral Home, 5200 Canal Blvd, New Orleans, on Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 10:00 AM, to be followed by a Funeral Service in the chapel at 1:00 PM and burial at Greenwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Zelda’s name to The CHARGE Syndrome Foundation (https://www.chargesyndrome.org/get-involved/donate/tribute-gift-donations/). The family also invites you to share your thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online, at https://www.greenwoodfh.com/tributes/Zelda-Hannan.