Zach was born November 13‚ 1990‚ in Winchester‚ Virginia. Zach was a lifelong resident of Gore‚ Virginia.
Zach grew up with his grandparents‚ Donald and Sue Whitacre Sr.‚ whom he called Pappy and Nanny Mom. He was a happy person who enjoyed watching the deer in the yard‚ feeding birds and squirrels‚ and watching the sunrise. He enjoyed time with his dad‚ Donald Whitacre Jr.‚ and stepmother‚ Donna‚ bringing in hay‚ cutting wood‚ or working in the garden. He also enjoyed time with his mom‚ Diane Holmes‚ his stepfather‚ James‚ and also his other grandparents whom he called Aunt Pansy and Uncle Norman Anderson. He had a stepbrother‚ Justin Rudolph; a stepsister‚ Victoria Rudolph; and a half-sister‚ Cheyenne Holmes.
Zach was quiet and a fan of country music. His friends at the fire department gave him the nickname ‘Jukebox’ because he loved to sing his country music. Zach enjoyed playing video games with his cousin‚ Triston‚ and his fellow firefighters at the fire station. Zach also enjoyed football and NASCAR‚ especially Mark Martin.
Zach worked with his grandfather‚ Donald Whitacre Sr.‚ delivering lumber after he graduated from James Wood High School. Principal Joe Salyer called the 2009 graduate ‘a young man of strong character who was highly respected by those who knew him and he was dependable and had a strong love for his school and community.’ Mr. Jonathan Russel‚ Zach’s drafting teacher‚ said‚ ‘Zach was an amazing kid and was always happy and friendly. Zach never had anything bad to say about anyone he knew. He always had a smile on his face‚ but not too much to say‚ but that was Zach for you. He had a warm smile that just made everyone happy who was around him.’
Kyle Ritter‚ a fellow firefighter‚ recalled him as a man of great character who displayed respect‚ humor‚ and dedication‚ and was compassionate about serving the fire department. Zach was described by Rescue Captain‚ Tonya Holliday‚ as ‘an old soul in a young body.’ Zach had only been a member of the fire department for a year and was planning to go to fire school. He enjoyed being part of the fire department that his granddad and dad were in. His dad is a firefighter and an EMT. Zach had the two-minute drill down to 1 minute 14 seconds. He helped with the annual yard parties‚ cut firewood for the station‚ helped work on the trucks‚ and was at the station for work details‚ meetings and trainings.
Zach was loved and respected by everyone he met and is missed very much by his family and friends.