January 17, 2020 – West Bend, WI -Neighbors in West Bend are paying tribute to Peggy Ziegler as a “matriarch of the Ziegler family,” someone who was direct and leaving a legacy in the community.
Ziegler died at her home on Wednesday, January 15, 2020; she was 94.
Washington County Circuit Judge Andrew Gonring was taken aback when informed of the news. “Peg did so much for the community; both she and Bernie,” said Gonring. “All you have to do is take a look at the Kettle Moraine YMCA and see many improvements she funded, all in the name of kids and all in the name of making that facility available to members of this community in a way it wasn’t before.
“She was a tremendous matriarch of the Ziegler family. West Benders will be eternally grateful for what she’s done,” he said.
Questioned how he would identify Peggy Ziegler, Gonring said “she was about as West Bend as they come.”
“She had down-home roots; she never put on airs or pretended to be someone she wasn’t. She truly was a great West Bender in all aspects,” he said.
Margaret “Peggy” Ziegler, nee Gumm, attended West Bend High School. She graduated 1943 and her name is listed first as one of the editors of the high school yearbook.
“Peggy was a sharp and classy lady that I had the utmost respect for,” said former West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow. “On several occasions I would get a call or email from her letting me know, very directly, her opinion. Usually she was in Arizona and still paying close attention to her home. She had a deep love for West Bend and its people.”
During her senior year in high school Margaret Gumm was involved in everything from band to choir, Latin Club, variety show, Christmas Play, Clipper Staff and Bend Editor and she was even elected Prom Queen.
“She was always a good friend,” said Gunter Woog. “We went at it tooth and nail but we were good friends.”
Woog said “she was always there when we needed her.”
He praised Ziegler for her donations to the community including Enchantment in the Park.
“If we needed a donation to Jam for Kids or anything the Zieglers always helped out,” he said.
Woog laughed at some memories of his friend Peg, saying a good word to describe her was “cantankerous.”
“One time she told me to move back to Germany if I didn’t like it,” Woog said. “She held her ground but had a big heart. Even when we were fighting, we really liked each other. It’s the kind of relationship people don’t have today.”
Betty Nelson, another legacy of West Bend, was good friends with Peggy Ziegler. “Bernie and Peg introduced Cliff and me,” she said about her future husband. “We went to the auto races at State Fair Park. That was back in 1948 and we were married in ’49.”
Nelson, 96, described Peggy and Bernie as “close friends for years.”
“She was such a generous woman. She was interested in West Bend; everything about West Bend or everything that pertained to West Bend and she was very active in raising money for the Y and all manner of things,” said Nelson. “We were fast friends because the Ziegler’s were a lot of fun. Peggy had a good sense of humor and I think that took her through a lot of tough times.”
Barb Justman, owner of BJ and Company, spent time with Ziegler weekly; visiting her home every Thursday to “do her hair.”
“She was spirited,” said Justman. “When I’d be there, she would talk about things like the art museum and the trees or bushes planted by the museum. Someone would have taken her for a ride and she just always wanted to know what was going on in West Bend,” said Justman. “The museum and the historic theatre were always hot topics of conversation for her. She really wanted to be kept up on local news.”
Former Washington County Board Chairman Ken Miller said he had the pleasure of working with Peggy on several occasions. “She always knew what she wanted but could compromise if necessary. She was feisty but kind. I admired her for just being “her”. She was unselfish and always willing to “pitch “in. She is one of the great philanthropists that makes Washington County a great place. Her “mark” is all over the area not just Washington County and West Bend. She will be missed. What a great Lady.”
Ric Leitheiser of West Bend said Peggy Ziegler made a significant impact in the community. “Peg carried on the Ziegler legacy and made her own in more ways than I’m sure people realize. What I remember most is her interest in kids. She always had a soft spot for kids and children will benefit from her generosity for generations. She will be missed,” said Leitheiser.
Nancy and Jerry Mehring were good friends of Peggy Ziegler. Jerry Mehring would drive her to medical appointments. “She asked for Jerry specifically as a driver with Interfaith,” said Nancy. “She was a proud lady and I felt bad because was such a wonderful person.”
Mehring remembered working for Peggy’s husband Bernie years ago at the West Bend Company. “Bernie and Allan Kieckhafer and Harry Haugen were all in wholesale and premium. Peggy was always so kind and sweet and it’s no wonder Bernie could do as much as he did because they worked together as such a good team,” said Nancy Mehring.
One-year Bernie Ziegler gave Nancy Mehring a pale green cashmere sweater for Christmas. “It was so special and it was a gift and I treasured that so much and I always told Peggy how much that meant. West Bend is missing a great lady; West Bend was lucky to have the Zieglers and their generosity.”
Peggy is survived by 3 children: Bernard Ziegler, Jayne (Jim) Wayne and J.J. (Annette) Ziegler; 10 grandchildren: Brooke (Nicholas) Novaczyk, Sara (Joe) Humann, Laura (Grant) Sommer, Jim (Aurelia) Wayne, Nick (Priscilla) Wayne, Carri Wayne, Lucy Wayne, Keller Ziegler, Charlie Ziegler and Drew Ziegler; 13 great-grandchildren; 1 sister Dorothy Barnes; other relatives and friends.
In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by 1 daughter Marna Ziegler, 1 daughter-in-law Liz Ziegler and 1 brother Robert Gumm.
Visitation will be on Thursday, January 23 from 10:30 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. at the Schmidt Funeral Home in West Bend. Funeral services will follow at 1:30 p.m. with private interment.