Jesse H. Ziegler, Ph.D., long-time professor of community health at Wright State University School of Medicine, died Wednesday, March 7, after a brief illness. He was 88. A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, March 13, at 4 p.m., at Mack Memorial Church of the Brethren, 1717 Salem Ave., Dayton.
Dr. Ziegler joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1980 after retiring from a long and distinguished career in theological education. Until shortly before his death, he served as a discussion leader in a required first-year course, "Social and Ethical Issues in Medicine," and directed several electives over the years, most notably "Coping with Loss and Death."
"Dr. Ziegler came to the School of Medicine during its formative years," said Dean Howard M. Part, M.D. "He had a major impact on the school's development, especially in the area of weaving the ethical and social dimensions of medicine through the curriculum. He was greatly admired and respected by all who knew and loved him, and he will be sorely missed."
"When you first met this remarkable man, with his modest manner, you wouldn't guess that he had a national reputation in theological education," said Robert D. Reece, Ph.D., chair and professor of community health at Wright State. "But after just a few minutes of conversation, you would become aware of his probing intellect, his inquiring mind, and his compassionate heart. It's no wonder that he consistently received the top ratings from students in course evaluations - right up to the end."
Dr. Ziegler also played a key role in the Anatomical Gift Program at Wright State. When the interment service for the program was established in 1980, he was asked to organize and conduct the religious portion of the services. In recognition of the diverse religious sentiments of the donors and their families, Dr. Ziegler involved clergy from several local churches and synagogues in the service. He continued his role in planning the program each year and served as a participant and moderator through 2000.
Because of his long-term commitment to the Anatomical Gift Program and to acknowledge his years of service to the School of Medicine and its students, the Department of Anatomy established a scholarship in his honor in 1997.
"The Department of Anatomy and the Anatomical Gift Program will greatly miss having Dr. Ziegler's support and especially his efforts to network in the community on our behalf," said Jane Scott, Ph.D., chair of anatomy. "He was a fine, compassionate man. He believed in the Anatomical Gift Program and supported its goal of furthering medical education."
Born in Limerick, Penn., Dr. Ziegler was ordained to the ministry by the Church of the Brethren in 1931. He earned a master's and doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He later earned a Bachelor of Divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., where he taught from 1941 to 1959 and spent one year as a visiting lecturer at Yale Divinity School.
In 1959, he became associate director of the Association of Theological Schools, the accreditation agency for seminaries in the United States and Canada. He served as executive director of the association from 1966 to 1980, when he retired. He also served as a professor of religion and health at United Theological Seminary and, until last month, taught Sunday school at Mack Memorial Church.
Dr. Ziegler is survived by his wife Harriet at home and his daughter Harriet Anne Ziegler of Melbourne, Australia. Following the memorial service, the family will receive guests over light refreshments. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent either to Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 W. National Rd., Richmond, IN 47374, or to the Jesse H. Ziegler, Ph.D., Scholarship fund in care of the Wright State University Foundation, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435.