Carol Jean Zak, beloved mother, dedicated caregiver, and cherished friend, passed away on August 8, 2023, at the age of 84 in Belton, Texas. She was born on July 6, 1939, in Glassport, PA, to her loving parents, Phillip Norman Sandow and Grace Leona (Story) Sandow. Carol's kind and compassionate nature touched the lives of many during her time spent working in various caregiving facilities including nursing homes, retirement homes, private care setups, group homes, hospitals, and mental health facilities.
Carol's educational journey took her from San Angelo Central High School in Texas to a local nursing school where she acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to become a nurse. Her commitment to learning and her passion for caring for others were unwavering throughout her career.
Those close to Carol knew her by her maiden name Sandow. She will forever be remembered for her fair and just nature. Carol possessed a truly servant's heart and dedicated herself to helping those around her. Her selflessness knew no bounds as she consistently went above and beyond to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
Outside of work, Carol enjoyed indulging in the thrill of gambling at various casinos. She often teamed up with her best friend and brother for exciting excursions to different bingo halls where they tested their luck together. The vibrant atmosphere energized her spirit and brought immense joy into her life.
It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge Carol's passing due to heart problems that she had been battling for some time. Despite facing this health challenge head-on with unwavering determination, it ultimately led to her untimely departure.
Carol's proudest accomplishments were twofold: first as a proud former military wife who stood steadfast alongside her partners serving our country; and secondly as an extraordinary mother who guided and nurtured her three children through thick and thin. As a single mother, she wore the responsibility with grace and worked tirelessly to set an inspirational example for her children. Her dedication and sacrifices will forever be remembered and appreciated.
Carol was preceded in death by her parents and two loving husbands, Donald Cross and Andrew Zak. She also mourned the loss of three brothers, Bill Sandow, Norman Sandow, and John Sandow, who held special places in her heart. Their memories will forever be cherished.
Carol leaves behind a legacy of love and devotion that will continue through her surviving family members. She is survived by her adoring son, James E. Cross, who will forever hold his mother's love close to his heart. Her daughters, Dawn Cross and Michelle Cross, deeply mourn the loss of their beloved mother but find solace in the countless memories they shared together.
Additionally, Carol's three grandchildren, Houston, Jeffery, and Peggy – along with one grandson Damien – were blessed to have experienced the warmth and compassion that radiated from their grandmother's soul. They will forever carry Carol's love with them as they navigate life's journeys.
As we come together to honor Carol Jean Zak's remarkable life, let us remember her for the love she shared, the lives she touched through her caregiving career, and the indelible mark she left on those fortunate enough to know her. May her legacy inspire us all to live each day with kindness in our hearts and compassion for others — just as Carol did throughout her beautiful life.
Arrangements are under the direction of Sabrina N. Young, of Young's Daughters Funeral Home and Bereavement Center in Temple, TX.