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Ellwood “Woody” L. Ziegler Jr.

    Ellwood “Woody” Lewis Ziegler Jr. of Waco, NE, was welcomed to his Heavenly home by his Lord and Savior on Saturday, December 16, 2023.

    Woody was a friend to multitudes. A teacher and leader, both professionally and personally, he valued learning and hard work. And he exhibited those traits in every aspect of his life. He was passionate and spoke with conviction about a great many things, but none more so than his Christian faith. With strangers, friends, and his family, he pointed all those who entered his life–whether for just a moment while pumping gas or in the stands at a Huskers game, or across the years from elementary school to adulthood–to the free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus. Woody’s personal Bible verse was Ephesians 2:8-10 and he would want his Christian brothers and sisters to be “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (verse 10).”

    He was born December 23, 1947 to Ellwood Lewis Ziegler Sr. and Bonnie (Shields) Ziegler in Denver, CO. He was Baptized into God’s family on Feb 25, 1951, at Grace Lutheran Church in Denver, CO by Rev. H. H. Hellbusch. He attended University Hills Lutheran School and was Confirmed on May 21, 1961. While at Denver Lutheran High School he decided to go into teaching (actually football) and took the train to Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Nebraska. While at Concordia he met his future wife Amy Ehlers, and they were married at Concordia’s Weller Chapel on August 9, 1969.

    As the first-born child of hard-working parents, he learned responsibility early as the leader of the Ziegler troupe, spending summers at the swimming pool, “TP”ing the cousins while playing outside after dark and jumping on the trampoline that he purchased with his paper route money. His work career started with jobs that included bus boy, paper carrier, and dairy sanitizer. However, his true calling was as an educational leader, first as an elementary classroom teacher in Omaha, Utica, and York. Then for years as the principal at Willard Elementary School and York Elementary School where he touched the lives of countless children that walked through those doors. In 1996 he was recognized as a Milken Educator. Later in his career he taught for Doane University, worked for the Nebraska Department of Education, and with his brother and friend Rob Ziegler, created the Educator’s Virtual Mentor. Most recently, Woody served his community as York County Commissioner (while also spending some time each week earning ‘spending money’ working in the poultry houses of Smart Chicken).

    He is survived by his wife of 54 years, daughter, Erin (Jeff) Huebschman of Lancaster, WI, son, Chris (Vicky) Ziegler of Waco; granddaughters, Shelby, Kailey, and Riley; sisters, Karen Anderson and Tina Schettler; sisters-in-law, Susie Ziegler, Margaret Ziegler, Sue Sullivan-Eliker, and Sharon Ehlers-Sykes; aunt, Faye Duff; nieces and nephews. Woody rejoiced to call many his brothers and sisters in Christ. He was preceded in death by his parents; parents-in-law, Ernest “Clyde” and Norma Ehlers; brothers, Robert and Timothy Ziegler; brothers-in-law, Bradley Ehlers and Gary Sullivan.

    Funeral services are scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Friday, December 22, 2023 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Utica, NE, with graveside services at 4:15 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Cemetery at Thayer, NE. The service will be livestreamed on Visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, with the family greeting friends from 6-7:30 p.m., all at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Utica. In lieu of flowers and plants, memorials may be directed to St. Paul-Utica or to a Woody Ziegler Scholarship Fund for Education.

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