Vern Eldon Ziegler
April 3, 1935 – February 6, 2020
Vern E. Ziegler April 3, 1935 - February 6, 2020
A life-long resident of Spokane, Vern Eldon Ziegler was the fourth and last child born to Ernest L. and Irene A. Ziegler in Spokane on April 3, 1935. Vern attended Arlington Grade School and graduated from Rogers High School in 1953. He loved working alongside his father and 12-years-older brother, Ernie Jr., whom he adored. Weekends and after school were spent working in the family business. During WWII he rode with his father in the cab of trucks hauling cedar shingles from Priest Lake. Tagging along with his father or older brother, he hauled pine lumber down to Spokane Sash. By the time he was 13, he could do nearly all of the jobs in the family sawmill, turning cants, edging, working the cutoff and tail saws. He was fortunate to learn early lessons of hard work and family responsibility. After high school he and his life-long friend, Bob Taylor, built and sold 21 houses by the time they were 21. Vern continued on as a building contractor from 1954 to 1965 and built houses not only in Spokane, but also in Montana, Idaho, and in other Washington towns.
On December 27, 1958 he married Mary Esther Slawter and they had four sons – Reid, Neil, Dean, and Karl Ziegler. In 1965, Vern and Mary founded and opened the first Ziegler Lumber retail operation in Spokane, building on three acres of ground at 4110 North Market St. One of the three employees was his mother-in-law, Grace Slawter, his “office staff”. Ziegler Lumber, a one-stop cash n’ carry building materials operation targeting the local do-it-yourself market was personally opened by Vern every morning at 7:00AM and closed at 7:00PM., six days a week for the first seven years.
Vern often said he “sold sticks” for a living. Under his direction, Ziegler Lumber Company (“Ziggy’s”) outlasted many competitors, small and large, to become a multi-state building materials business. There are now 6 Ziggy’s retail stores; Spokane, Spokane Valley, & Moses Lake in Washington, and Hayden Lake, Lewiston & Post Falls in Idaho. Known as “Ziggy’s … yeah … Ziggy’s”, Vern’s “stick” business is still family-owned and managed and has employed hundreds of people, many with 20, 30, 40, and even 50 year work careers at Ziggy’s. Vern and Mary have always acknowledged, and been grateful for, the people who helped make Ziggy’s a success - the Ziggy’s employees, their families and customers.
Vern was a life-long active outdoorsman and advocate for fish and wildlife resources. In 1979 He was appointed to the Washington State Game Commission where he served six years, with the last year as chairman. He maintained memberships in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, the Washington Wildlife Federation, the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, the Safari Club International, the National Rifle Association, the Spokane Rifle Club, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, being designated a “Master Hunter” by that organization. He served as president of the INWC in 1992-3, and for thirty years was personally active in innumerable projects, habitat restoration, and aircraft salt drops to sheep in the Selkirks and elk in the Blues. He was a major supporter of the Council’s annual Big Horn Show that grew to be the largest outdoors-recreation exhibition in the area, benefitting local wildlife and wilderness resources.
From childhood Vern fished local creeks and lakes with his dad and brother. Later he fished remote lakes in Canada with his amphibious aircraft, salmon off the Washington coast and made numerous trips to Alaska with family and friends for fishing. There were many hunting trips in Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and British Columbia, and in 2008, Vern and his grandson, Dane Ziegler, hunted in Africa. Another grandson, Taylor Ziegler, and he hunted bear in British Columbia. He flew his four sons to the Brooks Range in northern Alaska to hunt Dall sheep. Almost all of Vern’s grandchildren harvested their first buck deer with Vern.
In 1994-1995, Vern was elected to the Freeholders committee, a panel for the City/County of Spokane. This citizen board’s year-long assignment was to come up with an independent, long range vision to consolidate city and county departments and agencies, to reduce waste and duplication in the multi-layered local government.
After earning his pilot’s license and buying his first plane at 32, he accumulated over 5,000 hours of pilot-in-command time with the various planes he owned for corporate, personal and charitable flights. He was active in Washington Pilots Association, AOPA, United Flying Octogenarians and volunteered in the national Air Lifeline program. For many years he (as well as other pilots) flew children from the Hutton Settlement on trips to the wilderness or Priest Lake at Cavanaugh Bay. There, he or his sons would bring the boat over from Vern and Mary’s cabin where he and others, would take them tubing and boating before flying them back.
Vern was a generous man who believed in giving back to the community. He and Mary set up a scholarship for graduates of Rogers High School, where he and Mary both graduated. In 1993, Vern was installed on the Rogers HS Wall of Fame. He helped build a Habitat house in New Zealand. He personally managed the construction of a Youth for Christ gym in Hillyard and a building (Casa House) on the grounds of the West Valley Learning Center, used by both CASA Partners, a non-profit working with abused and neglected children and the West Valley School District. He enjoyed baseball and softball from childhood and sponsored many area little league teams, rec teams and adult softball teams and was installed in the Inland Empire Softball Hall of Fame as a sponsor. Many area school and club sports programs, as well as numerous non-profit organizations, benefitted from financial help through Vern and Ziggy’s. He once wrote to his family, “There’s little in my life that I would change and I would gladly do it all over again!”
Vern is survived by his wife of 61 years, Mary; their four sons, Reid & wife Patti, their children Journee (Micah) Davis, Luke (Arta) Ziegler, Jessica (Barron) Draper, Michael Schneider (Mckenzie Martin) & Thomas Schneider; Neil & wife Natalie, their children Dane (Ingrid) Ziegler, Erica (Jon) Schwab, Cole (Lorna) Ziegler, Bailey Wilcox & Nichole (Tanden) Launder; Dean, his children Taylor Ziegler, Austin Ziegler, Heather (Braden) Lott & Amanda Guild; and Karl & wife Terry, their children Nikki Ziegler, Zachary Ziegler, Braxton Ziegler, Danielle Ziegler, Gracee Ziegler & Micah Ziegler; seventeen great-grandchildren, a large, extended family throughout Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana & South Dakota, his great and loyal Ziggy’s family of employees and many friends. He is predeceased by his parents, Ernest and Irene Ziegler, his brother Ernest Ziegler Jr. and wife Viola, sisters Geraldine Wells and Shirley Moore and husband Lyle, and daughter-in-law Debbie Ziegler.
Private burial will be at Wayside Cemetery on Friday, March 13th.
Public memorial service will be held at 10:30AM on Saturday, March 14th at Life Center Church, 1202 N. Government Way, Spokane, reception to follow. Pastor Jim Johnson of St. Luke Lutheran Church will officiate.
All Ziggy’s locations will be closed for business on March 14th in remembrance of Vern.
Friends and family may leave a “memory” on Ball & Dodd Funeral Home’s website. The family is grateful for the wonderful service of Home Instead, Fire Station #49, American Medical Response, Sacred Heart Hospital doctors and staff, Hospice of Spokane and long-term care provider Dr. John Floyd & his staff.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to St.Luke Lutheran Church building fund; Wayside Cemetery fund at Innovia Foundation, John R. Rogers High School wood shop program, Hospice of Spokane, or a
Celebration of Life
Vern Eldon Ziegler
February 16, 2020
Just want to send our sincerest condolences to the whole Ziegler family from your Coolin neighbors and friends, Carol and Jason Rutherford and Jack Terry.
Walter J Knopp
February 16, 2020
I want to acknowledge all the many wonderful things that Vern, Mary, and their extended family did for so many people over many years. The passing of a remarkable, passionate man.
Walter J. Knopp
February 16, 2020
Recently you took Vern Ziegler to be with You and we're hoping that You really thought it through. Hopefully heaven's planners, builders and wish fulfillment staff was forewarned as Vern might be compared to a box of fireworks next to an open flame, lots of energy and noise, going off in a multitude of directions. Perhaps a suggestion to your staff:
Vern's heaven might just look like a frosty October morning in hunting camp in the colorful rounded foothills just east of Ennis, Montana. It'll need to be a old-time hunting camp, cooking and sleeping in stiff canvas tents along a creek. Vern in his best Stetson, directing horses, hay, with the smell of leather tack, freshly oiled rifles, Vern's beloved Mary tending cast iron pans on a crackling campfire. Be sure to include Vern's brother, Ernie, and all their sons telling cherished family stories with the sun burning off the pre-dawn fog and the promise of big elk moving in the scrub.
Just one option among many. Oh, and don't be totally surprised when you give directions that Vern out-thinks or outright rejects. It is Vern Ziegler, after all.
February 16, 2020
I was a Ziegler Lumber employee for several years in the 1990’s and agree Vern was a very hands-on employer/owner. He was almost always at work with his boots on, ready to handle anything. Many family-oriented celebrations were hosted by Vern and Mary bringing us all together to share in their good fortune. My thoughts go out to the family and current employees.
February 13, 2020
I used to live next door to Vern and across the street from his Dad Bill, i mowed their lawns and they were just great to my family.
Bill Ziegler sold the house to us when i was young, . Vern and his family were just good people. I miss running around at Peoples Lumber, wish them all the best. God must have needed another good guy........RIP Vern.....
February 8, 2020
One time about 8 years ago I was at the Northpointe store grabbing some material for a job (I currently worked for Ziggy's and was building a shed). I walked in, was waiting to transfer the items, when Vern snuck up, patted me on the back and cheerfully said "you getting any service in here". I locked over to see him amped up.
We exchanged a few pleasantries, and as he walked away he said "that shirt looks good tucked in"
Loved his spirit of "get it done". Whatever it took, that spirit was infectious, and inspired me as a low level employee, to get it done.
Thanks for building a company that has given me and my family so much opportunity. Without a doubt, it is in good hands, and we will get it done.