61 years ago, Ruth and Leo Zanger said I do to each other but we wonder if they knew they were signing up for 102 grandkids as well. Their beautiful love story begins when Leo was introduced to Ruth through his brother, Dale and her sister, Rosie. The two married on April 18, 1956 and settled down in Quincy, Illinois. In the same year, the newlyweds had their first child, Linda. After Linda, the couple gave birth to Greg, Debbie, Donna, Steve, Mike, Matt, Chuck, David, Daniel, Ernie, and Joe. In all, they have 12 children with the oldest being 58 and the youngest, 31 [1].

Daunting yet fun-filled

“It’s a very busy family,” Daniel admits to the Herald-Whig [2]. And that’s putting it mildly but when all is said and done, the family always enjoy being around each other.

“There’s never a dull moment. We always had a lot of fun growing up,” says Daniel.

As daunting as the responsibility may seem because surely, running around to take care of a dozen kids can be an absolute nightmare for many mothers, there’s no doubt that it went along with lots of love and laughter.

And it has been one grandchild after another

By the time Leo and Ruth welcomed their 100th grandchild, they had one great-great grandchild, 46 great-grandchildren and 53 grandchildren. Infact when the couple’s last child, Joe, was born, he was already an uncle 10 times over [3].

Family gatherings are always, oh well, plentiful

Since a large number of Ruth and Leo’s descendants have chosen to remain in Quincy, Illinois, where Leo runs a real estate agency that also employs two daughter-in-laws, four sons and one daughter, family gatherings means renting out an entire church hall as no one has a house big enough to accommodate 100 people.

“When we get together, it’s big. It’s really big. There are a lot of people- a lot of kids- but that’s what it’s all about. We  have a really good time,” Lane said.

Years of experience has, however, ensured that these gatherings are organized efficiently.

How do they keep up with all of them?

And Donna shines! She keeps track of everyone. Infact, if it wasn’t for her, the Zangers would have missed the fact that they already were expecting their 100th grandchild.

We didn’t even know until Donna and Kelly figured it out and told us about it three months along. It’s pretty special — 100 grandkids, that’s a big deal.”

But who can fault them? 100 grandchildren is definitely a big deal.

Should we expect more?

There’s always room for one more. With Ruth and Leo’s children still young enough to have children of their own, it doesn’t seem like a foregone conclusion. There’s also a lot of young families that are just getting started.

Family is everything

As Leo and Ruth celebrate their 61st anniversary, they have a lot to be thankful for. Whether it’s family or love , they have both in abundance [4].


  1. “Meet The Zangers, The Couple That Has Over 100 Grandchildren”, Brides Blush. January, 2019.
  2. “Leo and Ruth Zanger”, Herald-Whig. March, 2006.
  3. “Illinois couple who welcomed 100th grandchild: ‘We just love them all'”, Today. May, 2005.
  4. “Couple Celebrates 61 Years Of Marriage And The Birth Of Their 100th Grandchild”, The Breast Cancer Site. May, 2019.
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