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Leo and Ruth Zanger with their 100th grandson Jaxton. | Source: Facebook/TV Anouvelles
Leo and Ruth Zanger with their 100th grandson Jaxton. | Source: Facebook/TV Anouvelles

Couple Married for 59 Years Celebrates the Birth of Their 100th Grandchild

Monica Otayza
Nov 23, 2022
06:00 P.M.
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The more, the merrier! A couple who have been married for 59 years just welcomed the birth of their 100th grandchild, and they couldn't be happier.

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Western Illinois couple Leo and Ruth Zanger are doting grandparents to not just one, not just two, but a hundred grandchildren! The historic mark was reached after the birth of their great-grandson, Jaxton Leo, who is their 46th great-grandchild and the son of their grandson Austin and his wife Ashleigh. They also have 54 grandchildren from their twelve children.

Despite the size of their family, the Zangers are family-oriented and extremely close to one another. Most of them live in Quincy, Illinois, and often get together for special occasions.

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Every time the family gets together, they have to rent out an entire church hall to accommodate everybody. They also need at least ten turkeys or fifty pounds of ham to get everybody full!

With the number of gatherings they have in a year, the Zangers make sure to take turns on who's in charge of bringing what. Admittedly, this often means trying to outdo one another every chance they get.

Since Ruth and Leo wed, they’ve welcomed many children and grandchildren. Almost 60 years later, the couple celebrated the birth of their 100th grandchild, enough to “start our own town!” they joked.

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When asked about his huge family, Leo believes it is a blessing from God. While one might expect them to think that having over a hundred direct relatives is too much for a family, his wife Ruth notes that they always have room for one more.

Before their grandchildren came, Leo and Ruth welcomed twelve children between 1956 to 1984. By the time their youngest son Joe was born in 1984, they already had ten grandchildren!

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The Zangers' eldest granddaughter and Joe's eldest niece Jeannine was born to their eldest daughter Linda in 1975. Between Linda and Joe are their ten siblings, Greg, Debbie, David, Donna, Steve, Mike, Daniel, Ernie, Matt, and Chuck.

Ashleigh, who married into the family and gave birth to Jaxton without realizing he was the 100th grandchild, admits that she feels special because of it.

To keep up with their growing family, one of Leo and Ruth's children, Donna, volunteered to keep track of all the important dates and information regarding their family. This includes weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, and phone numbers.

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More often than not, Donna considers being the unofficial historian as a labor of love. It's a lot to keep track of, but it's something she continues to do for the sake of their family. Whenever they get together, Donna is also in charge of letting everyone know, since she already has everyone's numbers.

For those who marry into the family, it's admittedly a challenge to get to know everyone and memorize all of their names. While it can take a while, it's definitely a pleasant experience that the spouses adjusted one way or another.

Ashleigh, who married into the family and gave birth to Jaxton without realizing he was the 100th grandchild, admits that she feels special because of it. It wasn't until Donna and her husband Austin's mom Kelly figured it out when she was three months pregnant.

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From an outsider's perspective, it might be easy to forget such a milestone, especially with such a big family. However, Austin proudly notes how close his entire family is. They spend a lot of time together, and they gladly help each other out whenever there's a problem.

While many of Ruth and Leo's children work in the family business, Daniel Zanger, Austin's dad, and Jaxton's grandfather shared that they have relatives in several industries. They're a very busy family, but they don't let this get in the way of their being close.

Daniel recalls never having a dull moment with their large family, and that it was a lot of fun growing up. And now that Leo and Ruth are raising grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they hope to instill the same sense of family in them.

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Like many other families, the large clan gets together every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. However, they also make sure to celebrate other special milestones, like birthdays and anniversaries.

The special Zanger bond remains intact even with their 100th grandchild joining the crew, and it's all thanks to Leo and Ruth's dedication to keeping the family together with their children's help.

Like the Zangers, another widow from Pennsylvania, Marguerite Koller, celebrated the birth of her 100th great-grandchild this year. This was quite a feat for Koller, who once wanted to be a nun!

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