In Memory of Dr. Dewey Ziegler

Sierra Club supporter, passionate birder, avid gardener and dedicated conservationist Dewey Ziegler, M.D. passed away September 13, 2012 at the age of 92.  According to his obituary in the Kansas City Star, “his colleagues, friends and family will remember him as a lifelong learner and extraordinary teacher.”  Long-time members of the Kanza Group will most certainly remember him.

Being a relatively recent immigrant to the KC Metro area, my impressions of Dr. Ziegler are limited to the occasions we chatted at Sierra Club events after 1999.  Our shared passions for gardening and birding were immediately evident.

At one of our long-past Winter Festival pot luck suppers, he proudly delivered a large homegrown hibiscus plant to donate to the mini-auction fundraiser.  Its broad, green, glossy leaves were gorgeous, especially in the gloom of one my first Kansas winters.  Missing the beautiful hibiscus shrubs that grow in south Texas, I examined the plant.  It was healthy, but clearly had outgrown its container.  Dewey must have decided he’d rather donate than re-pot.  Been there.

I happily hauled the hibiscus home in our old van.  The following spring, it was replanted and set outdoors.  Soon, its big, yellow double-blossoms brought joy along with a twinge of homesickness.  When I next saw Dewey, he beamed with pleasure when I told him how well his plant was doing on my patio.

While the good doctor is no longer with us, the hibiscus lives on, overwintering each year in my basement near the walk-out door.  On cold, dreary days, I anticipate sharing its bright sunny blooms with the hummingbirds.  The seasons roll on and the hibiscus needs re-potting again, Dewey.

Next summer, each yellow flower will recall the passions and efforts of Dr. Ziegler…and those twinkling eyes.

By Elaine Giessel


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