In Memoriam: Joseph A. Ziegler

Joseph A. Ziegler, Ph.D.

Dec. 13, 1945-March 9, 2013
Co-Director, Global Engagement Office
Professor of Economics

Joseph A. Ziegler, 67, passed away on March 9, 2013, in Fayetteville. Joe was a Professor of Economics for 40 years in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. He received a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and his Ph.D. from Notre Dame. After two years on the faculty of Clemson University, he joined the University of Arkansas faculty in 1973.

Joe, “Z” to his friends, served as chair of the Department of Economics for 22 years from 1987 to 2009. His years as department chair were marked by a dramatic increase in the department’s national and international reputation. During that time he also served as Director of International Business Studies in the Walton College and pioneered major expansions of the college’s study abroad programs and international partnerships.

He led the development of the Bachelor of Science in International Business degree. In 2010, he led the consolidation of business international programs as director of the Walton College Global Engagement Office. The global education that Walton College students will receive for years to come is Joe Ziegler’s professional legacy.

Until he was disabled in a bicycle accident in 2008, Z enjoyed running, hiking, canoeing, cycling, softball and water volleyball. He was a founding member and more than 20-year participant on the Dismal Sciences intramural softball team. For years, he and friends formed a relay team for the Hogeye Marathon and arranged their teaching schedules to allow for a noontime run. He was an original participant and served as the 3rd Admiral of the Walton College Dead Day Float canoeing trip on the Buffalo River.

The “leave on Mother’s Day” trips to the Grand Canyon that he organized with four of his best friends became legendary – and resulted in their wives acquiring nice collections of turquoise jewelry. He brought his family to nearly all the U.S. national parks and many countries overseas. Sunday afternoon water volleyball at their close friends’ home, Bill and Jackie Curington’s, was not complete without Joe cannonballing into the pool.

After giving up running to save his knees, he twice completed the “Ride the Rockies” bicycle tour of Colorado. On his last bicycle ride he was training for a third go at the Rockies. Now, freed from his wheelchair, Z is probably having trouble deciding which of these favorite activities to do first.

“Thanksgiving at the Ziegler’s” became an institution for the families of many of his friends. Many friends tell stories of their children objecting if there was a possibility that visiting relatives might keep them from going. So, those visiting relatives were welcomed with open arms by Joe and Ann Marie. The Thanksgiving guest list would often swell to 40 or more but everyone felt like they were special guests. It was like Thanksgiving with your favorite aunt and uncle.

Joe and Ann Marie were high school sweethearts and were married for 45 wonderful years. They shared the joy of seeing their two children, Kathleen and Michael, grow up and start their own families. To his immediate family, Joe frequently found ways to “build moral fiber” among the clan, especially on vacations, including: camping in Death Valley over Christmas and enjoying the scenic yet uninsulated “Rough Rider” cabins in Yellowstone.

He was as young in spirit as his kids and launched the mantra “Spin Til You Puke” on the Mad Hatter Teacup Ride in Walt Disney World and frequently led (and won) belching contests with them; he was also known for his unique articulations of certain words, such as pronouncing “boutique”, boo-tee-q and “jalapenos”, jah-lah-puh-nos. One of his most prized possessions was a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass, aka “Da Plum.” Although he finally had to relinquish her, a few shiny hubcaps still hang in the garage.

Z didn’t have a single “best friend”; he had many. They can all tell a story of a time that, with a sly grin, Joe would quite reasonably encourage them to do something they knew would get them in trouble. Somehow it always seemed reasonable if you just listened to Joe.

Joe was the son of the late Joseph J. Ziegler and Sophie Podraza Ziegler of Chicago. He is survived by his wife, Ann Marie Ziegler, his brother Norb Ziegler, and two children and their families: daughter Kathleen Ziegler, her husband Todd Piotrowski, and grandson Milo Piotrowski of New York and son Michael Ziegler and his wife Gracie Terrell Ziegler of Fayetteville.

Rosary will be at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, followed by visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. at Nelson’s Funeral Home in Fayetteville. The funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends can honor Joe’s legacy by making a contribution to the Joe Ziegler Study Abroad Scholarship. Gifts can be sent to the University of Arkansas Foundation, 535 Research Center Blvd., Ste. 120, Fayetteville, AR 72701 or give online at

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The stories will be compiled and shared to continue the celebration of Joe’s life.