YORK – Shock and sadness was experienced by many this past weekend upon the news of the sudden passing of York County Commissioner Woody Ziegler.
Commissioner Ziegler was appointed last January to fulfill the remainder of the county board term which had been held by Kurt Bulgrin, in District 2, upon Bulgrin becoming the York County Assessor.
Ziegler’s term on the county board was to have lasted through the end of 2024.
Ziegler was a doctor of education and was a classroom teacher in Omaha, Utica and York before becoming the elementary principal at York Public Schools. He was a grant writer for York Elementary projects and also worked as an instructor at Doane University. He had been a technology specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education and a co-director for Leadership Talks Technology with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He was also the owner/developer of Educator’s Virtual Mentor.
Ziegler was one of the first Wessels Living History Farm board members when the historic location became reality. He was also instrumental in pursuing the educational elements of the Farm through Wessels’ award-winning website.
When he was appointed as commissioner, he referred to his resume and core beliefs, saying, “I would like to use these skills to make a difference. I’m a lifelong resident of York County, I’ve been blessed to be here with great people. I would like to give back. I’m a conservative Christian, I’ve been married 53 years, family is important to me. And I am excited to serve my county.”
Regarding his views on being a commissioner, Ziegler said, “If we don’t have good roads, the farmers can’t get to the fields or the markets and kids can’t get to school. We need to have fiber to the whole county and we want kids to be able to stay here and have careers. I want to listen to people and research what’s going on to make the best decisions. It’s a huge responsibility and we need find what can be done, we need to be frugal. We need to see if there are training issues for employees and we need to look at how to keep them. We need to talk about zoning, there are projects we need to research. We just need open decision making. This is one of the wealthiest counties in the state and we need to look at how we can keep people here.”
Ziegler was actively involved in many areas of county business and served on several committees, particularly in the area of technology. He also was a firm believer in government transparency and communicating with constituents. He avidly drove the county’s roads, seemingly knowing the conditions of many miles and the status of ongoing projects.
He was also actively involved in the York County Republicans and the Nebraska Republican Party.
York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier said this weekend, after receiving news about Ziegler’s passing, “I have known Woody Ziegler for many years and served on the board of commissioners with him for the past 11 months, and it was obvious to me his faith, family, county and country meant a great deal to him. He truly was a servant and will be greatly missed.”
York County Commissioner Daniel Grotz echoed Obermier in appreciating Ziegler’s efforts and commitment. “I was saddened to hear of Woody's passing. Having known Mr. Ziegler from my time in elementary school, I have always respected his views and approach. I am honored to have had the privilege to serve with him. On behalf of York County, we offer our condolences to the Ziegler family. He will be missed by many.”
York County Assessor Bulgrin said, ““I was shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Woody. He was an educator at heart who relished the opportunity to teach anyone, whether he was in the classroom or the boardroom. He was eager to listen and learn from those he served and worked with. Woody diligently served the people of the Second District up until his passing, however Woody will certainly be remembered most for his dedication to his family and service to our Lord and his church, where he could always be found leading a Bible study and offering up prayers for anyone in our community. The void left by the passing of Woody will undoubtedly be felt by so many in our community. I offer my most heartfelt sympathy to his wife Amy and to his children and grandchildren.”
When Ziegler retired from his position with York Public Schools, he said in an interview how he viewed teaching as well as living one’s best life. “We are teaching kids that if you fall down you get back up, that’s what learning is. Be prepared to learn and function in society. The measuring stick of what you’ve done is what you’ve given to those kids – the relationship building. It’s the concept of living above the line and taking responsibility and when you do take responsibility, the world opens up to you.” As far as retiring, he offered, “It’s been a great run. I feel good about what I’ve accomplished.”