Medical 05

Dr. Alfredo Zarate

May 15, 1927 ~ December 13, 2023 (age 96) 96 Years Old

Dr. Alfredo Zarate Obituary

Dr. Alfredo Zarate -- loving father, grandfather, husband, brother, and friend -- passed away on December 13, 2023.  He lived a remarkable, meaningful life of almost ninety-seven years.  Dr. Zarate served as a pillar of strength, compassion, and integrity for his family and community and as a pioneering doctor in Orange County for nearly half a century.

Alfredo was born on May 15, 1927, in Ameca, Mexico, one of five children.  He earned his medical degree in Guadalajara, Mexico, and soon thereafter moved to Chicago in search of greater opportunity.  In Chicago, Alfredo completed a three-year residency in general surgery and passed the American Medical Association board exams on the first try and began his medical practice.

In 1957, Dr. Zarate was drafted into the U.S. Navy, commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander, and served as a naval surgeon at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state.  While stationed at Whidbey Island, he met and later married Isabel Cristina on January 17, 1959. 

In 1960, Alfredo and Isabel moved to Chicago and started a family, later moving to Southern California in 1961, to start a new medical practice and home.  In Santa Ana, he built a thriving medical practice, loving family, and caring community and network.

Dr. Zarate was a talented, trusted doctor who made house calls, conducted complex surgeries, and delivered thousands of babies.  Throughout his career, he cared for countless patients and generations of families.

Dr. Zarate was a beloved and accomplished doctor.  He built the Pan American Medical Group into one of the most successful medical practices in Orange County, served as Chief of Staff at Doctor’s Hospital in Santa Ana from 1974-1976, and remained an active, respected member of the medical community well into his 80s.  A September 27, 1999 Orange County Register article spotlighted Dr. Zarate’s “pioneering” career and the deep impact he had on the community.  It noted that at the height of his practice, “he and his partners would deliver as many as 60 babies a month.  On a busy day, each would see as many as 40 patients.... Day after day, it was standing room only.”  The article included testimonials from former patients reflecting how much Dr. Zarate cared for them and their families, even into retirement. “[F]rom a two-story brick building on 17th Street, Zarate dispensed the type of care rarely found in this age of HMOs. He made house calls, accepted crates of celery and baskets of oranges in lieu of payment, and had patients so loyal that he would deliver three generations in one family.”

Dr. Zarate was a loving father of four children (Alfredo, Jr.; Marisa; Alberto (“Abi”); and Juan). He was proud of his children, and his children were immensely proud of and adored him.  Along with his wife, Alfredo created a warm, inviting home where laughter, wise counsel, great food, and hugs abounded.  He provided generously for the family and supported those who came to him in need.  It was a home that cherished education and encouraged life-long learning and achievement, with shelves of encyclopedias, stacks of multiple newspapers and news magazines, and piles of medical journals adorning the living room. 

All four children attended St. Jeanne de Lestonnac School in Tustin, CA, and Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA.  Along with his wife, Dr. Zarate was a committed and beloved member of both school communities, often leading fundraisers, hosting school events, and supporting families, faculty, and staff.  They were devoted Catholic parishioners in Orange County – often attending services and supporting the communities at St. Cecilia’s, Holy Family Cathedral, Saints Simon and Jude, and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Alfredo and Isabel were married for nearly 64 years, and they formed a life-long partnership at work and home.  They were fierce American patriots who loved the United States, and their very lives and ethos reflected the reality and essence of the American Dream.  Dr. Zarate cared selflessly for Isabel at home for over a decade, along with committed nurses and therapists and Alfredo Zarate, Jr., before she passed away last year, December 5, 2022.  Isabel was Dr. Zarate’s last patient.

Dr. Zarate loved to play tennis with friends and his children, swam laps regularly in his backyard pool, and enjoyed traveling and watching his grandchildren’s performances, shows, and games.  Dr. Zarate took his family to Europe, Mexico, and Hawaii regularly and reveled in traveling to visit his children in Europe, around the country, and spending time in his beloved San Clemente.  One of the last trips Alfredo and Isabel took together with family was to Seattle and Whidbey Island to revisit where they had first met.

Those who were graced to know Dr. Zarate will always remember his joyous disposition, his spontaneous sense of humor and playfulness, and the stoic strength of a man who exuded wisdom, calm, and the abiding instinct to care and heal in the face of tragedy and pain.  He loved and cared for others deeply, until his last days.  As noted in the same 1999 article, “In the Zarate household, care is dispensed 24 hours a day.”

Alfredo Zarate is survived by three children (Alfredo, Jr., Marisa, and Juan), one brother (Jorge Zarate), six grandchildren (Nicole, Alenna, Peyton, Aiden, Johannes, and Bella), and an army of loving relatives and former patients. 

Dr. Alfredo Zarate was a great man, father, and doctor.  He leaves a legacy of strength, excellence, empathy, and love in all he did.  He lived a magnificent life of meaning, accomplishment, and service to others. 

Alfredo Zarate will always be loved, remembered, and missed.

A private Rosary will be held on Tuesday, December 26, 2023.  The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, at 10am PST at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Santa Ana, CA, to be followed by internment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in honor of Dr. Alfredo Zarate to the Sisters of the Company of Mary’s educational mission.  Please write checks to the “Sisters of the Company of Mary” and reference “Dr. Alfredo Zarate Legacy Fund.”  Please send donations to the Sisters’ Regional Offices at 16791 Main Street, Tustin, CA 92780.

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December 26, 2023

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Brown Colonial Mortuary
204 W. 17th St.
Santa Ana, California 92706

Vigil Service
December 26, 2023

6:00 PM
Brown Colonial Mortuary
204 W. 17th St.
Santa Ana, California 92706

Funeral Mass
December 27, 2023

10:00 AM
Saint Joseph Church
727 N. Minter St.
Santa Ana, California 92701

Interment Following Funeral Mass
December 27, 2023

Holy Sepulcher Cemetery
7845 E. Santiago Canyon Road
Orange, California 92683


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