The Smallest Sprout Shows

By Robert Reyes and Harold Terezón (with Frank Cruz)

"The smallest sprout shows there is really no death;
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it;
All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier."
(Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself")

By most measures, Zachary Michael Cruz lived a full life. He was born on March 12th, 2003, in Ventura, California, and died in an unexpected accident in Berkeley, California, on February 27th, 2009. Only 5 years old, Zachary was a devoted brother, a loving son, and an adored nephew, grandson, and great-grandson. He touched the lives of everyone he came across, and his absence has left a profound emptiness in the hearts of all who knew him.

An avid fan of all things "Cal," Zach loved Golden Bear Football, Big Game Week, Oski the Bear, and the restaurants and cafes that surround the University of California at Berkeley. He enjoyed the view from the Campanile, the dinosaurs at the Valley Life Sciences Building, and eating frozen yogurt on a warm East Bay afternoon near the fountain on Sproul Plaza.

Zach was passionate about sports — both as spectator and participant. As a Dodgers fan in the Bay Area, Zachary loved to venture into the hostile territory of AT&T Park sporting his Dodgers apparel to watch LA battle their rivals and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” (Zach’s next line included the malapropism, “Take me out to the proud.”) As a T-ball player with the NOLL/SOLL Angels, Zach enjoyed teasing his father/coach over the Angels-Dodgers schism that splits southern California like a fault line. In the 2009 season, when he died, Zachary was signed up to play his second season of Little League, once again (fittingly) with the Angels.

As a kindergartner at Le Conte Elementary School in Berkeley, Zach dreamed big about his future. His ambitious imagination led him to outer space as an astronaut, and (not or, Zach would insist) to UC Berkeley’s labs and classrooms as a scientist and doctor. At other times, he worked as a musician, playing on the Hammond M3 Organ in the family's living room or singing “All You Need is Love” as his father strummed along on the guitar.

Nothing Zach dreamed of was out of reach: no thought unimaginable; all possibilities, possible. He was an entrepreneur who sold Krabby Patties to his family like his cartoon idol Sponge Bob, and invested the profits in Star Wars Legos; an artist who, after watching the film The Yellow Submarine with his grandma, drew a picture with pastels that now hangs framed on the family's living room wall. Whatever path Zach might have followed — whether as a painter, photographer, rock climber, train conductor, or the Great Bambino himself — he would surely have continued to bring joy to those who knew him. He was a young man who exuded a suave charisma and wore his family’s love in a disarming yet contagious smile. Zachary is deeply missed and he will never be forgotten.

He is survived by his loving parents, Frank and Jodie Cruz, and his brother, Miles, all of Berkeley, CA. He is survived by his other parents, Chris Dixon and Stacy Brown of Oakland, CA. On his father’s side, he is survived by his grandparents: Beverly and Danny Shelton of Oxnard, CA, and Frank David Cruz and Rebecca Sperry of Fillmore, CA, his great grandfather Raul J. Cruz, and his great grandmother Jeanette Philhower. On his mother’s side, Zachary is survived by his grandparents: Dorthy and David Best of Ventura, CA, and John Spargur of Texas, and his great grandmothers Rosalie Carlson and Ethel Rassmussen. Zachary is survived by his aunts and uncles: Jennifer and Wayne; John and Kelly Spargur; John Cruz, Nicole, Jessica, and James. His many cousins: Geoffrey and Lauren; Kira, Collin, Connor, Caity, and Caleb; Ashley, and Jeremy. He is missed by many, many friends at Le Conte Elementary (especially Ophelia), at Smyth Fernwald, and at all the daycare centers around campus.

From Zachary's obituary, originally published in 2009 in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, and the Ventura County Star.