Tim “Zip” Zepperi was a classic Amsterdam West Ender. He grew up in a huge four-family apartment house next to the old St. Agnello Club on West Main Street, the oldest brother in a family of seven kids. As a youngster, his posse included Johnny Nasso, Frank Valiante and Moses Hopkins and their childhood was filled with street football, whiffle ball games, school dances and plenty of sitting on various front porches in the neighborhood, arguing over the best ballplayers, the prettiest girls in school, who the best Beatle was and their favorite TV shows.
In high school the thing with girls began getting more serious. Timmy fell in love with a Ram cheerleader named Gerri and that love would last for the rest of his life. After graduation, he went to work at Amsterdam Printing and never left. Tony Greco and him coached the Blue Junior’s team together in Little Giants and became best friends for life. Later he helped Tony take over the Maroon Wildcats and create a kids football dynasty that would last a decade.
I always thought him and Gerri were a perfect couple. They fit and worked together like a pair of warm gloves on a cold winter day and when it came to their greatest accomplishment as a couple, daughters Trish and Amy, they sort of defined what loving and supporting parents were supposed to be like.
When I think of Zip certain scenes keep popping in my head. I see him holding a beer in front of his house on Guy Park, cheering and making jokes that afternoon way back in the 1980’s when Kirk Douglas was honored here with a parade. I see him up in that tiny announcer’s booth that used to sit alongside the Little Giants football field at Veterans. In between calling the games he’d yell out greetings to spectators as they came into the park. I see him playing softball up on the four diamonds with younger brothers he loved so much. I see him up at the Lynch Football Stadium, sitting up high in the bleachers with the entire Zepperi clan, cheering on the greatest running back in the history of the Rugged Rams, his beloved nephew Justice Smith. I see him down Russo’s standing at the end of the bar with Johnny, Frankie, Tony and Mo, holding a cold one and talking real loud in that classic half-hoarse-sounding Zip voice of his. I see him in the Lynch and AHS Auditoriums, at one of the hundred or so musical concerts Trish and Amy participated in. Both our daughter’s played the oboe together all through school and he’d always jokingly say to me “Of all the instruments to choose from they pick the oboe!”
He fought the cancer that would claim his life hard as hell. But after a bone marrow transplant failed, Timmy passed away on October 2, 1992, just three days short of his 40th birthday. The WestEnd of Amsterdam lost a good one that day.
“Zip” is one of my all-time favorite nicknames but if anyone needed a nickname it was this long-ago member of Amsterdam’s upper class!