Hugo Forster Zettler, beloved father, grandfather, brother, and friend, passed away on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. He was 81. Born in East Orange, New Jersey, Hugo’s parents moved the family to Tempe, Arizona in 1951 where he resided for the remainder of his life. A graduate of the Tempe High class of 1959, he stayed in touch with many of his classmates throughout his life. He attended Arizona State University, graduating with a degree in Political Science in 1963. There he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and the ROTC.
After graduation, he joined the United States Army in 1964 and was stationed in Ludwigsburg, Germany for 2.5 years. He was honorably discharged as a 1st Lieutenant in 1966. He went on to receive his law degree at the University of Arizona (his only option because ASU did not yet have a law school). Immediately upon graduating and passing the bar in 1969, he was hired by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office where he worked as a criminal prosecutor for over 30 years. After his first ‘retirement’, he served as an initial appearance judge for several years but missed being a prosecutor too much. He returned to his career as a prosecutor, this time with the City of Tempe, where he would work nearly another 20 years; begrudgingly retiring a second time just prior to his 80th birthday.
During his time as a practicing lawyer and judge, Hugo taught the prosecution clinic at the Arizona State University law school and travelled around the country teaching. His class was in high demand for over 35 years. It was most known for the final exam; everyone went to the Bandersnatch to drink and then take a breathalyzer test. He was awarded the Outstanding faculty award by the college in 1999. A scholarship in his name was established in 2014.
Hugo loved Tempe. He caused a lot of shenanigans around town in his youth, including swimming in the canals and lighting a pool on fire. During his teenage years he had a newspaper route around his neighborhood. His family has many special memories of climbing ‘A’ Mountain and riding bikes around the ASU campus. A special memory for all his kids is going to Organ Stop Pizza on birthdays and Christmas Eve (or just because). Hugo especially loved the sing along and Lone Ranger. Trips up north to the Prescott cabin to ride ATC’s were a favorite. He enjoyed spending time in Alabama with Ivy’s family where he made numerous friends and fond memories over the years. He had a passion for trains, taking trips around the country and building model trains from a young age. He took many trips both solo and with family over the years to Germany where he stayed in contact with his German cousins; Ilse and Dieter, Helga and Ulli, Brigete, and Ingo.
If you knew Hugo, you know he loved to tell terrible jokes. You could never tell if he was telling a really great story, or just pulling your leg. Usually the latter.
Hugo is survived by his daughters Ivy Warren (Harrison) and Ashley Zettler (Matthew) and his son Brian Zettler (Casey); 3 grandchildren, Anna Warren, Dominic Zettler, and Devin Hennig; brother Eric (Penny) and his nephew Todd Zettler (Melissa) and niece Gretchen Zettler. He is preceded in death by his parents, Hugo A. Zettler and Lina Zettler. The family would like to extend a special thank you to Jan Pentek for being by Hugo’s side as a friend and companion for the last years of his life.
A celebration of life will be held Friday April 14th, 2023, from 4pm-8pm. Special memories of Hugo will be shared by family and friends between 5pm-6pm if you would like to come listen or share during that time. Or come to visit with family and friends any time before or after.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Professor Hugo Zettler Scholarship fund; providing financial support to law students who want to pursue a career as a prosecutor.