Former Canyon Lake mayor dies following battle with cancer

John Zaitz is pictured riding in the Fiesta Day parade. Photo by Canyon Lake Insider.

Former Canyon Lake Mayor Zaitz succumbed to cancer on May 20 at the age of 81.

John was born to Albert and Emma Zaitz on February 3, 1943, in Los Angeles, California.

After high school, John served as an Army military police officer and received his CPCU after attending Los Angeles City College and Van Norman School of Law. He went on to work for the Automobile Club of Southern California as an underwriter and reengineering manager for 45 years.

John and wife, Cathy, bought a weekend home in Canyon Lake in the early 80s. They moved to Canyon Lake permanently in 1989 to raise their children, John Edward and Kristen.

John served on the Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors from 1993 to 2000. He was elected to the Canyon Lake City Council in 2000, serving as mayor in 2003 and 2004. In September 2004, the League of California Cities announced that John had met all the requirements for graduation from the Mayors and Council Members Academy of Advanced Leadership. At the time, John was the first and only Canyon Lake official to achieve that distinction.

John Zaitz, right, served as mayor in 2004. He is pictured with Councilman Frank Kessler, Councilman Marty Gibson, Mayor Pro Tem Mary Carton, and Councilman Jack Wamsley. Photo by City of Canyon Lake.

John was reelected to the council in 2004. After losing the 2008 and 2010 elections, John was appointed to the council in 2015 to fill the seat vacated by Nancy Horton, who was elected to the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors.

John and Cathy were active in the community. John could be seen barbequing at Fiesta Days, running booths at Oktoberfest, and playing the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz. He also served on the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce Board.

Cathy, along with Carolyn Knight, Margaret McCoy, and Linda Johnson, founded the Canyon Lake Bosom Buddies, a breast cancer support group that reaches out to women diagnosed with breast cancer, something each of the founders dealt with and which ultimately claimed Cathy’s life in June 2008.

In 1999, Cathy was named “Citizen of the Year.” Zohn received the same honor in 2000. Cathy was also honored as grand marshal of the 2000 Fiesta Day parade. John was honored as grand marshal of the 2005 Fiesta Day parade.

John’s wishes were for cremation. The family plans to have a Celebration of Life at a later date.


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