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Ryne Starr Zahner

02/28/1990 - 01/15/2017
Service Date: 01/28/2017
Service Time: 3:00PM
Service Location: Mesa High School Gymnasium - 1630 E. Southern Ave. Mesa, AZ

Ryne Starr Zahner, 26, passed away unexpectedly on January 15, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.

He was born in Peoria, Illinois on February 28, 1990 and moved to Arizona in 1999. He attended Skyline High School where he played baseball and graduated in 2008. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in both History and Math from Arizona State University in 2012. He earned his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University in 2015 and recently received his Principal certification. He was currently in his 5th year of teaching Math at Mesa High School. He loved being a teacher and the impact he had on his students.

Ryne was an avid Cubs fan and enjoyed watching USC football and Duke basketball. He loved country music and hanging out with family and friends.  He was well respected and a friend to everyone. He was often described as outgoing, caring, funny, and charismatic.

He is survived by his parents Brett and Karla (Schaufelberger) Zahner (Mesa, AZ); siblings Brooke and Skyler Zahner (Mesa, AZ); grandparents Elmer and Sandra (Clauson) Schaufelberger (Peoria, IL/Mesa, AZ); aunts and uncles Keri Schaufelberger (Mesa, AZ), Mark and Kim (Schaufelberger) Larsh (Mesa, AZ), John and Crystal (Zahner) Ott (Peoria, IL); and cousins Jeffrey and Brittney Larsh (Mesa, AZ), Luke, Jake, Drew, and Jennifer Ott (Peoria, IL).

He is preceded in death by his grandparents Dave and Nancy (Schoch) Zahner (Peoria, IL) and his uncle Bart Zahner (Bartonville, IL)

A Celebration of Life will be held at Mesa High School gymnasium on Saturday January 28, 2017 at 3 pm.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Ryne may be made to the Ryne Starr Zahner Scholarship Fund c/o Mesa Public Schools, Accounting Department – 63 E. Main St. #101 Mesa, AZ 85201.

Contributions can also be made online at  https://mpswebpay.mpsaz.org (Create a Guest Account, Search field type: Zahner )


  • Ryne was a great guy. He had such an impact on Mesa High, even in the short time he’s been there. As a fellow Cubs Fan I’m so glad he got a chance to see his favorite team finally win the World Series. Your memory will always Carry On!

  • My senior math teacher and friend . You didn’t deserve this but thank you for being a great teacher for supporting us to be more and do more . You always gave us life lessons to be someone in life and never give up on it and I will always remember that . I’m glad you got to see the Cubs win , fly the W Zahner and I’m sorry to the Zahner family for their loss .

  • Dayanara Cruz Aguayo

    You were an amazing teacher and mentor to me all throughout my senior year. I miss you so much and wish I could have seen you one more time. Carry on Mr Z

  • Savannah Hargett

    Once a Jackrabbit, Always a Jackrabbit.

  • Dear Zahner family,

    I am so very deeply sorry for your enormous loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Martha

  • Leanne & Rick Joseph

    Our condolences on the loss of your son. Our hearts ache for you. In our prayers

  • Eileen Gratkins

    Brett, Karla, and family… I’m so very sorry for your loss. I never had to opportunity to meet Ryne, but I know how intensely proud you were of him. You and your family are in my prayers.

  • Ryne Zahner was an incredible teacher and friend. I’m so blessed I was able to be part of the first graduating class he taught. I’m glad I was able to see his great stories on snapchat and keep in touch over the years. Memories of him shall live on through our hearts.
    My condolences go to his family – you will be in my prayers.
    Once a Jackrabbit, always a jackrabbit.
    Carry On.

  • Mr.Zahner was my freshman math teacher. He was always an amazing teacher and so full of life and laughter and energy. He helped me with my math or just plain out anything. He didnt deserve this he really was a good guy. Carry On Mr.Zahner ❤

  • I am deeply sorry for your loss. Ryne made an enormous impact here at Mesa High and I know he will forever be missed. To the Zahner family, thank you for raising such an awesome man who we all had the pleasure of being around. He was truly a great guy. My heart goes out to you all.

  • Although I did not know Mr. Zahner, you will be missed, Once a jackrabitt always a jackrabbit! Brett, Karla, & the rest of the family/friends I’m sorry for your loss! Carry on Mr. Z

  • He help me though my rough times and ALWAYS had faith in me! He was an inspiration to all Mesa High jackrabbits. He is a legend and always will be. May he rest at peace we love you Mr. Zahner.

  • Ryne was an amazing friend and co worker. He always knew how to brighten anyone’s day up with his smile and very welcoming hellos. He was always approachable and loved his students. He was also an amazing dancer and was willing to do anything for the students. It was a pleasure working summer school, dancing in faculty dance, and pranking teachers.

    My prayers are with the Zahner family.

  • I hated this school at first then I met you things started get better A LOT better you are always smiling Everytime I walked into that classroom first hour it was the best thing anyone could have seen early in the mornings it’s not the same without you but idk I loved having you teach me it help me a lot never gonna forget that smile rest easy jack rabbit 💜💛🐰

  • Mr. Zahner was an amazing teacher. He always knew how to make his lessons very entertaining and worth listening to. He always had an impact on how I viewed fellow students. I had many chances to bond with him and it’s sad to not have him with us anymore. He will always be a part of Mesa High School! Once a jackrabbit, always a jackrabbit! Carry On Mr Zahner and fly high! You’re in my prayers Zahner family.

  • Jim and Venetia Wilhelmsen

    He will be missed at Mesa High School. Our prayers are with your family.

  • Brett and Karla, I am so very sorry for the loss of your boy. I remember Ryne when he came through BTI. He was such an eager, charismatic, and easygoing guy who seemed so excited to start his career. I recently saw him again at the leadership academy question/answer session with his cadre, me, and two other new principals. I was so impressed with his questions, and how much he had grown and matured. What a tragic and senseless loss. I think the world of both of you, and you and your family will continue to be in my prayers. Stay strong.

  • RIP Ryne. I know your Grandmother and Grandfather (Elmer and Sandy). Your Grandmother talked of you often and was so proud. In the short time you were here on earth, you have left a mark, by all the writings of your students you had touched so many. Thoughts and Prayers out to all of the family. God Bless.

  • Mr. Zahner, even though you weren’t my real teacher (I wish you could’ve been) you made a huge impact on my life and the lives of many others. Thank you for always going the extra mile for me and others like me.
    rest easy😇💜💛 – j

  • Michelle Cornelius

    Zahner family,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you as you navigate this difficult journey.

  • Deepest condolences to the Zahner family. There are no words. Hugs, thoughts, and prayers to your family.

  • Ryne had a heart of gold and a contagious smile I will never forget. Thank you for sharing your love and dedication with us at Mesa High. I am so thankful you were able to participate in the faculty dance show, so we could all see what a rock star you were. You will be missed immensely! Please watch over all of us jackrabbits. Carry on!

  • Yumehko Del Rosario

    Mr. Zahner was a really great out going guy. He inspired many students even staff members, he was family to many people I’m Mesa High. Everytime I saw him he was always smiling and his link crew was great. He made alot of impact to many students and staff members lives. He touched many people’s hearts and helped them through things. Thank you very Mary much Mr. Zahner
    Condolences to his family and friends

  • He was an amazing Teacher, Sadly he was taken Alway from us, But Our School Spirit Well Stay Strong, Sorry for your lost

  • Jesus Hernandez

    The best Math teacher In school Always Happy I won’t never forget How excited he was for “Taco Tuesday ” a pleasure to meet You Mr. Zahner # carryon

  • A wonderful man, great mentor and amazing friend. Made my senior year amazing with his jokes and inspiration. Helped me believe in myself and the paths and many choices I could choose in life. He always knew how to make everyone smile and helped everyone with anything they needed. He had wonderful ideas and different ways of helping students learn and not get frustrated. I just saw him recently and even more than ever he was such a happy confident and amazing friend. My condolences go out to his family. Once a jackrabbit always a jackrabbit. Carry on..

  • Though I never really got to know him I knew from our first interaction that he was a man who took pride in his work and in those around him. He loved those around him and wanted everyone to be happy. Mr. Zahner is a man who wanted only the best for his students and always encouraged us to go above and beyond. I speak in present tense because truthfully he isn’t gone, his spirit, his steadfastness, his legacy, live in everyone one of us, in every person he taught, and of those who’ve crossed his path. Mr. Zahner lives on in all of us, and as always, “Carry On”.

  • My thoughts and prayers are with you Brett and your Family. I’m so sorry for your loss, I wish you strength and peace.

  • Cynthia Belmontes

    To the Zahner family, so sorry for your loss. He was just an amazing person!!!💜

  • I remember Ryne as a fourth grader. What a pleasure he was to have in the classroom. I know you will be missed.

  • Karla, Kim , Keri,
    I extend my the most heartfelt condolences for such a tragic loss to your family. The huge outpouring of love for him demonstrates what an amazing son, nephew, teacher, and brother he was. Another generation of inspiring educators as each of you are. My heart goes out to each of you.

  • Cathy Marcham-Pettit

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Rest in peace, Ryne. You will always be alive in the hearts of thousands of lives that you have touched.Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.

  • I just wish that where ever you are … you Rest In Peace …. you will be missed and we wish to see you again one day 💕🙏🏼

  • Mr. Zahner was well loved at Mesa High. He will truly be missed being around and seeing him around campus but Once a Jackrabbit always a Jackrabbit. Carry On 💜💛💜💛. Truly missed but never forgotten

  • Zahner I’m Gonna miss you a lot, Sad to see you go so Young, CUBS Won the World Series and I’m glad you got the chance to live for that, You will be missed and Your Family will be in my prayers. God Bless You and R.I.P. 💜💛

  • I am so sorry for your loss. I worked at Mesa High for a year a few years back and I didn’t know Zahner super well, but I definitely like him as a person. I went to the Mesa High service tonight, and I want you to know that who he was has made a huge impact on me tonight. And what an amazing sight, to see so many people that Ryne influenced for the better. No one should have to die, and at so young an age. But he has left a name, a legacy and a great influence on many people. I think that’s the most you can ask for. Thanks for helping him be that person. And I believe that though he is gone from this life, you will see him again. 🙂 God is taking good care of him.
    I wish you the best in this hard time. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Mr.Z wasn’t just a regular math teacher. He connected with every student. He changed lives. He except more from his students than they initially thought to. His legacy he has left will carry on throughout Mesa high for generations. The smile and laughter he brought to our school will not be forgotten. He truly was and amazing teacher, and most of all, friend to all. Mesa high will not be the same without him. He will be missed and never forgotten. Mohana Mr.Z. Carry On

  • RIP. My thought and prayers is being sent out to your family at this time. Once a Jackrabbit always a Jackrabbit CARRY ON from an alumni class of 1985

  • Suzanne Putman (Erickson)

    To Brett and the entire Zahner family, I cannot even imagine the pain and heartache you must be feeling. My heart is deeply sad for you. I wish there were words I could offer, but there are none. I am so very, very sorry. I will keep you in my prayers and send you my love. My deepest Condolences.

  • There are no words for the loss of a child. These circumstances make the your loss unbearable. My sincere love, prayers and condolences go out to the entire family. May God heal your hearts. May justice be done.

  • Keri, I am so sorry for the loss of your nephew. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family at this time. May God wrap his arms around your family and you find comfort in the memories that will live on. 🙏🏻

  • My deepest condolences to your family. Karla, you’ve been on my mind and in my prayers. May God bless you and your family during this sad time.

  • My condolences to Mr. Zahner’s dear family, and may these promises from the Bible bring them comfort in this time of sorrow. Jehovah God is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are discouraged. And he will wipe away the tears from all faces. Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 25:8 NWT. Peace be with you.

  • Ryne, you will be missed more than you ever know. I’ll never forget all of the memories we made, the laughs we had and the summers when you’d visit Illinois. You were my cousin but more like a brother. I wish we could have on more talk, one more laugh, one more bud light by the pool. I’ll always miss you and love you. You were an amazing person and had such a bright future ahead. I’ll talk to you still and I know you’ll listen, and see you again someday.

  • RRRYYYYYYYNEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! … Who’s name am I going to yell when walk into Bartonville?!? I miss you man. We’d still talk about starcraft after all these years and the memories we made growing up. You were the only one who would go toe to toe at bag’s with me. I love how fired up you got about Bocci and the annual tradition we started as a family. I’ll make you this promise. I promise to carry on with the goofiness, the games, and the love for life and family that you had. That’s the only way I know how to honor you. Rest in peace Ryne. Your memories will be with me forever and hopefully you’ll get a few laughs upstairs at rest of us.

  • Ryne will be missed as I remember him going to skyline together and we being born in Illinois not to far from each other home town he was nice and helpful to everyone. Even if a kid got bullied he would step in and help but even thoe he graduated a year before me everyone knew him for being so caring and joyful. I’m so sorry this had to happen so soon he will be missed,blessed and loved by family,friends,co workers, and thoes that knew him. I pray that he rest in peace and justice is surved. We will all miss you. With love

  • Cindy and Jerry Carter

    Dear Brett, Karla, and Family,
    We are so shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic loss of your son. We know that you were so proud of him, as you are of your other children. We will continue to pray for God’s loving hand to hold your family close. Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Our sincere prayers and condolences go out to your entire family.

  • Ben and Erica Garner

    Brett, Karla, Brooke, and Skyler…..Words can’t express how sad we are for you all. Ryne will be remembered as a great man. Ava and Kylee said they will not forget the fun they had with him at the pool. He was taken from the world too young, but he has a place in heaven with his grandparents and Uncle Bart. Our prayers are with you all.

  • Ryne, I’m not sure where to start. We are all going to miss you so much. I remember being kids and all of the good times we got to share that continued into our adult lives. I am beyond and forever grateful to be able to cherish and hold on to those wonderful memories, as there was never a shortage of those with you around. From being chased through the house by Uncle Bart in the middle of the night because he thought we were trying to mess with him, to staying up trying to pull all nighters for a trip to Hardees for fresh breakfast. I’ll always remember that time I flew out to Arizona with you and Skyler to spend a week just hanging out with you guys, Karla and Brooke…and not being able to handle the AZ heat! I always looked forward to summer and you coming into town. Going out in Peoria with me, throwing back bud lights by the pool at 223, and playing in our annual family bocce ball tournament together this past summer…we almost won! I will miss hearing you say “Now Jennifer!” followed by a witty remark or you just shaking your head at me. You touched so many lives and I will never forget you or your love for life. Rest in peace Ryne. We will see each other again some day and will have so much to catch up on.

  • Our sympathy to the family and friends. Look forward to the time when there will be no more death, pain or suffering- Revelation 21:4

  • Ryne thanks for being such a great colleague, mentor and friend not only to our students but also our entire staff and community. It was truly an honor to know you and work with you as part of our Jackrabbit community. To be a part of what we all do at Mesa High is uniquely special and important and you embraced all that you did with integrity, passion and fun. Thankyou Mr and Mrs Zahner for sharing one of your three most precious gifts with us. We are a better school, staff and student body for having Ryne with us. God bless you and your family.

  • JoAnn and Larry LeRoy

    Brett, Carla, the Zahner family, sandy and Elmer,
    Larry and I are so saddened about the loss of this remarkable young man. May God be with all of you during this horrific time. We send our love and prayers. Love to all, JoAnn and Larry

  • John Anthony Muth

    Skyler and Karla and the Zahner Family,
    I was very saddened to hear the news of Ryne passing. Although I did not know Ryne I knew Skyler (who was a great student of mine) and I have met his mother Karla, who was a wonderful mentor who taught Canvass. All of my love and my deepest sorrow for your loss.

  • Sandy, my heart goes out to you and your family for the loss of your grandson. He must have been a fantastic person who will be greatly missed per all the testimonials! Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this most difficult of times.
    Jessica Pence
    Former Co-worker at OSF SFMC

  • Dear Family and Friends of Ryne,
    I retired from Mesa High School at the end of the 2015-2016 school year and I have been substituting since then at MHS. I was acquainted with Ryne and his Aunt Keri while I taught there, and it was my honor to be with Ryne’s students for 5 days after the tragedy. His students were grieving his loss and shared their stories and descriptions of him to me. It truly touched my heart. Things like, “Mr. Zahner had a way of teaching math that made it so easy,” and “He made us feel like we were smart enough to understand even though we never thought we could.” They also asked to have me play songs in his memory, Toto’s “Africa,” which they said was his favorite, and “Go Cubs Go.” He has left a legacy through his students and his students are being nurtured and cared for by all of his friends and colleagues at Mesa High. Fly high, Ryne!

  • Brett, Karla, Brooke, Skylar, Elmer, Sandra, Kim, and Mark
    One memory II remember when I got to take you to work with me at the Peoria Police Department. I think you were 7 years old. There was an officer there on light duty shredding paper We watched him for a little while and you asked him if he got paid the same for doing that. as he did when he was on regular duty, I thought that was a great question for someone your age. Ryne your time on earth was way to brief, but you have left a lasting Memory for all that knew you and loved you. Ryne you will never be forgotten by your Family, Students, and Friends. Rest in Peace my Nephew. Love Aunt Carole.

  • My heart is broken for all of Ryne’s family & friends. I wish I had the magical answer to take your heartache & pain away. I love Rynes family very much! I hope that something good comes from this senseless tragedy. God’s Peace and my love and prayers to all! Ryne, you made a difference in this crazy world!! R.I.P.

  • Sandra Schaufelberger

    Nothing can prepare me for saying Good-Bye to someone who’s always been such a big part of my life. Ryne you will always be remembered, and always loved. Life will never be the same without you. I remember the first time I held you, when you started walking and said your first word. You spent a lot of time at Grandma’s & Grandpa’s. I loved spoiling you and we had such good times together. Taking you to the movies, playing games, playing in the playhouse, and when we had snow making snowmen in the backyard. The good times you had in the basement playing dress up and how much you like playing the Video games. Holidays were always a special time, seeing you in your Halloween costume, Easter, hunting eggs, the special time every year when Santa Claus would come to Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Christmas Eve. It didn’t take long and you where in preschool, you played little league went to grade school and then looking forward to High School. While in High School we enjoyed watching you play baseball and other school activities. You graduated from Skyline High School. Then you went to Arizona State University. You worked hard and became a Math Teacher at Mesa High School where you were well liked by your students and the faculty. You got your Master Degree at Northern Arizona University and was on the way to becoming a principal. You always made us proud of you. You accomplished so much and touch so many people lives in the short time you were here. You are a grandson everyone should be blessed to have. You will always be alive in my heart. Grandma
    KARLA,BRETT,BROOKE,SKYLER, My heart and love is here for you at this hard time in your life. I’m always here for you Mom

  • Elmer Schaufelberger

    The lost of my Grandson Ryne is the hardest thing that I faced in my life time. I remember when he was born, his parents were so proud of him, the first boy in the family. Ryne was all boy growing up and was always a joy to be around. He would come over to our house, he seem to enjoy working with me and listening to my stories. He like to play games with his great grandma Millie and grandma Sandy. The kids liked to put on a show for us in the basement, Ryne’s act was always a hit. He could rap. We had the video games in the basement which were a built in babysitter. We enjoyed going to his ball games. A special event for me was giving him his 1st haircut. It was a while before he would let anyone else cut his hair. His house was on a large lot surrounded by woods that he like to play in. We didn’t get to see him much once he moved to Arizona. When we were there we enjoyed going to his games, having him over to the house and the family get togethers.

    Ryne: Your achievements in school and sports lasted through your school years. Each of those steps made me proud to be your Grandpa. I believe you made a good choice to become a teacher. You touch so many lives.
    Ryne you would be amazed at the responds and support that was given by your friends, students, faculty and the community about the tragedy of the of the taking of your life. First there was a huge Candle Light Vigil at the school on Thursday night attended by hundreds of students and faculty. Monday was a private wake for your friends and faculty members several hundred attended. Tuesday was the funeral for family, friends and selected faculty members. Several people spoke about you. Your life long friend Josh ended with a toast of
    “here is a BUD for you”. On Saturday a Celebration of Life, which was open to the public, was held in Mesa High School Gym. There were at least 800 students along with several hundred friends, faculty and others in attendance. The faculty and family wore special T shirts with the Z in your honor to ‘CARRY ON”.
    Many of your students talked about the influence that you have had on their lives and how they enjoyed you in and out of the classroom. Your friends shared times that they enjoyed with you. Various faculty and administrators talked of your achievements. The entire faculty and administrators have been very supportive to all of us. They have name a hall in the Math wind in honor of you. A Ryne Starr Zahner Scholarship has been established in your honor at Mesa High. The scholarship will keep your memory alive for many years to come. This tribute will help many students to “Carry On”
    There are so many things I could write about you, so many stories I could tell. In time I will write and tell about them.
    I’ll love you and miss you always.

  • Karla, Brett & family,

    Really sad to hear about this senseless tragedy! I often think of Ryne chasing around his black puppy Shadow, constantly swinging around a baseball bat and of course loving the Cubs, as a kid. Glad to see he lived a life he enjoyed and ended up following the family line of becoming a respected and well liked teacher! RIP Ryno.

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