August 26, 1927 ~ April 3, 2021

Born in: Tsingtao, China
Resided in: Suwanee, Georgia

Mary Zart Sanosian Portnell, age 93, died April 3, 2021 at Budd Terrace at Wesley Woods in Atlanta, Georgia.

She was born in Tsingtao, China on August 26, 1927. As a teenager, she and her family were interned by the Japanese during World War II. After graduating from Peking American School and being liberated by U.S. forces in 1945, she worked as a switchboard operator for U.S. naval facilities before going to the Philippines where she met and married her husband, Leo. Together they came to the United States and lived in California, New York, Washington, Texas and Georgia. She was an active member of St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Church and was devoted to her family, and as a baker’s daughter, always had fresh desserts ready for anyone coming to visit.

Surviving family members include her husband of 70 years, Leonard; two sons and their wives, Robert and Kara Portnell of Dacula, Georgia and Steven and Amy Portnell of Suwanee, Georgia; grandchildren, Morgan and Sarah Portnell.

The family would like to express their appreciation for the care she received at Budd Terrace. A private graveside service will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Church, 85 Gloster Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30044.

Arrangements by Wages & Sons Funeral Home, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway Lawrenceville, GA 30046. 770-277-4550. Online condolences may be expressed at

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  1. CandleImageZart Portnell was one of Mom’s Best friends. I remember helping Mrs.Zart make meat pies,potato pies…when I was very young ! I am sure they had different names but I know we visited her a lot when we were all young. My brothers with play with the boys, so us girls would all hang out in the Kitchen together. Going through old family pictures, I saw one of Zart and Leo at a cook out at their old house off Lenox Rd. I know my Mom,
    Ruthie, is in Heaven talking Zart’s Ear off ! My Love to her Precious family.
    Laurie Fagan Sikes

  2. I can’t remember, but I think the Portnells were some of our Oldest friends in Atlanta. Zart was so loving to our Fagan family and she did make some incredible desserts and dinner fare. She was Heavenly loving to her husband Leo and son’s and to her close friends as well. She will be greatly missed to so many people. Sending our Love and prayers for Zart, Mitchell and Kelly and family.

  3. We loved Zart so much. Since I was a child she called me every year on my birthday without fail. Even in college and beyond. She was always dear to us and we have thought of her often. I loved going to Leo and Zart’s as a child it was always wonderful. Love to Leo and the sons.

    Much Love,
    Patricia Evans Skalak
    Tiny Evans

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