Thursday, March 07, 2013

RIP: Robert Zieger

Dr. Robert Zieger
Dr. Robert Zieger was a labor historian at several universities, ending his career at the University of Florida in Gainesville. We knew him and his wonderful wife, Gay, when he was at WSU for about ten years in the 1980s. He was smart, kind, and shared similar tastes in movies, baseball, novels, politics. Not all academics read novels-not most of them, in fact, The best thing about Bob and Gay Zieger was they went out of their way to make our kids feel as welcome in their house as family would. Bob spent many hours playing tennis and catch with Josh. Went to games with Phil and Josh. Gay spent time playing dolls with Megan. Can you imagine an adult who would do such a thing? They were patient and treated every word our kids said as important and deserving of an answer. When Megan, at about age 12, announced she wanted to be a cultural historian, he encouraged it. When Josh said he hoped to play professional baseball, he said he hoped to see him at Tiger Stadium someday. My kids talk about these traits to this day.

We had no family to share those holidays with in Detroit so the Ziegers stepped in. I am often afraid of dogs but Winston was as lovable as his owners.

We haven't seem Bob often over the last ten years. Mostly just a Christmas card and an occasional facebook interchange. But when I think of the people who have been important in my life, Bob ranks pretty high. I will miss him. For a long time after they moved to Florida, I wrote letter to them every few weeks and he always answered. I never got over missing them, wishing they had stayed in Detroit.

He died instantly and I am very glad for that. He lived long enough to have a darling granddaughter and I am doubly glad for that. His son, Robert, is a history teacher in Myanmar after doing a few years in Pakistan. I know how proud Bob was of his son.

No need to respond to this, friends. If you want to do yourself a favor, email or write or phone someone you should stay in touch with. I wish I had done better at it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the touching tribute. You did him justice. Unfortunately in this life we do drift apart from friends from time to time, often through circumstances out of our control.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon this, Patti. Very sweet. Thanks,