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Joseph Leon Zahler, age 62 of St. Michael, Minnesota, passed away November 22, 2021.

He was born on September 25, 1959 in Buffalo, Minnesota to Lloyd and Shirley (Lien) Zahler. Joe and his family resided in St. Michael, and he graduated from the St. Michael Albertville High School with the class of 1978.

After high school, Joe became a jack of all trades. Much like his namesake, he began his career woodworking. Eventually, he changed career paths and transitioned into sales. Joe sold everything from furniture, cars, luxury boats, insurance, trailers, cremation services, and more. Joe was honest trustworthy which made him extremely successful in sales. Joe also purchased Mr. Z’s Drive In, a well-known old-fashioned drive-in food stop in St. Michael, from 1986 – 1991. Joe’s easy-going charismatic personality and strong workmanship helped him to build lifelong relationships with his customers.

On August 7th, 1987, he was joined in marriage to Rhonda Brauckman. The two were married at the Historic St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael. Together they raised three children.

When Joe wasn’t working, you could find him spending hours on the lake fishing; No matter the weather or season, he was not easily deterred from trying to get the biggest catch of the day! Besides fishing, he loved boating and barefoot water skiing; anything to be on the water.

While he loved to fish, his faith and devotion to the Catholic Church led many to describe him as a fisher of men. Joe was heavily involved in the men’s Bible study groups, attended daily Mass and Adoration, Sponsored RCIA candidates, extraordinary eucharistic minister, and helped out with Church activities when needed. Joe had a selfless, loving, and kind soul. He had a generous heart and gave a lot of his time to the St. Michael Foundation and NIDD. The St. Michael Foundation was a program set up for individuals with developmental disabilities that was initiated by his family. He served as President of the foundation at one point, and also served as a board member for NIDD.

Joe was not only devoted to his faith, but also to his family. They were his heart and soul, and he loved his wife and children unconditionally.

He is preceded in death by his parents.

Joe is survived by his wife, Rhonda; children, Mercedes, Peyton, and Ellanor; siblings, Max (Linda) Zahler, Martin (Sandra) Zahler, James (Krista) Zahler, Michelle (William) Olson, Julie (Keith) Franklin, Dana (Michelle) Zahler, and Don Zahler; and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.

Visitation will be held Friday, November 26, 2021 from 4:00 – 8:00 PM with a prayer service beginning at 7:00 PM at the St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael, MN. Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 11:00 AM with visitation one hour prior at St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael. Interment will follow at St. Michael Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to The Peterson Chapel of St. Michael – Albertville. Online condolences for the family may be directed to

**The Funeral Mass will be livestreamed via the church website:

15 Guestbook Entries

  1. Steve and Chris Williams

    Rhonda and all the family, we are so saddened by Joe’s death. So hard to believe. He was such a wonderful guy and we will miss him. Sending our love and prayers to you all ❤️

  2. Steve, Marion & Logan Conwell

    We are so very sad to learn about Joe’s passing. What a kind, caring and generous man. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten by his wonderful family and all who knew him.

  3. Mary Hanson

    Dear Rhonda and family. Do very sorry to hear of Joe’s passing. I will always remember him as such a kind sweet man.

  4. Tom and Jason Sokolowski

    So very sad to hear of Joe’s passing. Prayers to you and your entire family. May he Rest In Peace.

  5. Tim and Annie

    Our hearts and love go out to Rhonda and family. What a kind, loving, giving man Joe was. It was an honor to have known someone who was as unselfish as he was. Rhonda and kids we know how immense your love was for him. May God’s light and love embrace you at this most difficult of times. You are all being prayed for more than ever.. Tim and Annie Prill

  6. Jeff Clemenson

    Rhonda and family.
    I still struggle with the realization of Joe’s passing. No words can describe how all of us here at work feel for your loss. Just know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers. Warm Regards
    Team Neptune

  7. Shirley Ann

    Treasured cousins Max, Marty, Jimmy, Shelly, Julie, Dana and Don…

    As a child and now as an old woman, I’ve been blessed with the dearest and kindest of cousins.

    And, I’ve known the heartache of losing a sibling, and now a similar shock and heartache in the loss of Joe.

    Sending special mention prayers to each of Joe’s siblings and families. Strength and all God’s blessings to Rhonda and family.

    Godspeed to Joe. I’ll sooo miss those phone calls.

    Much love, Shirley Ann

  8. Holbrook Family

    Marty, Sandy & Katrina as well as the entire Zahler Family….

    Our hearts go out to you and the Zahler family. I did not personally know Joe but after reading the obituary it is abundantly clear he was a phenomenal Christian and Family man. God Bless

  9. Gary Briggs

    How sad !!!!!!!!!!
    In Luxury Power Boat sales, Joe was highly respected by all his customers, and by all his co-workers at Wayzata Marine. He will be missed.

    What made him “most special” was his devotion to his family, his community, and his Church. Everyone thought highly of Joe Zahler.

  10. Kathy Pope

    Rhonda, Sadie, Peyton, and Ellie,
    I’m sending prayers and hugs to you all during this sad time. Joe will be truly missed.
    I remember the first time meeting you, Joe and Rhonda. It was a premarital class, communication. My husband and I were the couple to do that topic. You two were so in love and so excited about your new journey together, as husband and wife. I remember Joe talking about cars during our session, especially Cadillacs. One could tell that was another love for him.

    May the great times and memories of Joe, dad, husband give you strength as time goes on. God is holding you in His arms.

    Kathy Pope

  11. Gary Frandsen

    Sad to hear this. If ever a man deserved to go directly to heaven, it surely would be Joe.

  12. Bill Gaul

    So sorry for your families loss.

    Joe was a great man, a spiritual leader and a true friend.

    I will miss him.

  13. Lori Ille

    To my Rhonda & family,
    You both made a very special impact on my life, my time with you was so short but in that time you became my American parents. Joe was such a dear sweet beautiful man and I send my sincere condolences to you Rhonda, your children and the entire family. All my love from down under. Lori & family xx

  14. Lori Ille

    To my dear Rhonda,
    My time with you and Joe was so short but so very special, you became my American mum & dad and I will always love you both as such. Joe was such a dear, sweet & very kind man and I feel privileged to have had such beautiful memories with him. I am so very sorry for your loss and send you and your children all my love and sympathy. Love & light from down under.
    Love Lori & family x

  15. Eugene Ndeng

    Joe’s death is a great pain for me. I extend my condolences to his immediate family and to the Catholic community of St Michael. Indeed when I arrived for the first time in the United States precisely in St Michael, far from my family, a man with an angelic heart Steve House had agreed to support me. Through this channel, I discovered Camp Lebanon and it was Joe who asked Steve to let me spend the night with his son and him. Our multiple fishing and music campaigns will remain in my memory. May the very high welcome you Joe my brother and friend in his kingdom


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