Meet the Couple Who Just Welcomed Their 100th Grandchild

Ruth and Leo Zanger with their 100th grandchild, Jaxton Zanger. (Photo: Phil Carlson/The Herald-Whig)

Imagine being part of a family so huge, that celebrating holidays means renting out a hall just so there’s enough room for everyone. And with hundreds of birthdays and anniversaries to remember, one family member has to be the official record-keeper tasked with tracking them all.

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That’s what life is like for the Zanger family of Quincy, Illinois. Leo Zanger, 79, and wife Ruth have been married for 59 years and have 12 children, 53 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren, and one great-great granddaughter.

The April birth of latest great-grandson Jaxton Leo Zanger means that the Zangers have an incredible 100 grand- and great-grandkids, almost all residing in the Quincy area. Several work for the real estate business Leo Zanger founded in 1962 and continues to run.

The proud patriarch takes his mega family in stride; one entire wall in his office is filled with family photos spanning several generations. “I guess I’m biased, but having a big family is a lot of fun,” Leo tells Yahoo Parenting.

“So many babies have come over the years, you just get used to it, and we enjoy seeing them and being with them so much,” he adds.


Leo and Ruth Zanger, center, are surrounded by a fraction of their 100-plus descendants (Photo: Leo Zanger/Facebook)

The Zangers didn’t set out to have a family that could be dubbed 100 grandkids and counting, Donna Lane, Leo and Ruth’s daughter, tells Yahoo Parenting. But after getting married at ages 19 and 16 respectively, the couple had a hunch they’d produce lots of kids, says Lane. “Mom always said she’d like to have as many as God allowed,” she adds.

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Lane is child number five for the Zangers, whose first daughter, Linda, is now 59, while youngest son Joe is the baby at 31. “He was already an uncle 10 times over by the time he was born,” she says.

With so many members, you’d think this family would have some epic arguments. But Lane says they all get along very well, regularly gathering for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and a combined Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. (Birthdays come so frequently, they tend not to be celebrated with every family member, says Leo).

“We don’t have issues with sibling rivalry because our parents encouraged us to work things out and be close,” says Lane. “And now all the younger cousins hang out too: they go to school together, they’re on the same ball teams.”

Of course, keeping track of so many Zangers isn’t easy. Lane is the designated record-keeper of birthdays and anniversaries, and she often reminds her parents about which kid, grandkid, or great-grandkid’s birthday is coming up. “My dad sees them all often, but with so many people, occasionally he needs a reminder about a name,” says Lane.

And with some of Leo and Ruth’s own children still young enough to have more kids, the number of descendants is bound to keep growing. “There’s always room for one more,” Ruth told local newspaper the paper the Herald-Whig.

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