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Obituary ~ Frank Richard Ziegler

Funeral services were held Wednesday in Duluth for husband of Alice Ziegler, granddaughter of Alice Strickland. Ziegler was a successful businessman and renowned football player.

Funeral services for Frank Richard Ziegler were held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at Bill Head Funeral Home and Crematory Duluth Chapel. The family received friends two hours prior to the service.

Frank, the son of Theodore and Elizabeth Ziegler, was born Oct 1, 1923, in College Park, GA, and died March 6, 2011. As one of eight children, Frank pulled his own weight from an early age and contributed to the family income by delivering newspapers on his bicycle to subscribers on his Atlanta Journal paper route.

At the age of 16, Frank enrolled at Georgia Tech. He wanted to play football. Eventually all seven boys in the Ziegler family earned their degrees at Tech, a record still held at the college. His college and football career was placed on hold a year later.

As soon as he turned 17, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served nearly fours years in the "Lighter Than Air Brigade." To remain in shape and increase his speed he would spend hours running in the sand along the Pacific Ocean in California. 

In 1946 Frank was back at Tech and quickly earned the respect and admiration of Coach Bobby Dodd. His speed, skill and versatility impressed Coach Dodd who termed Frank "the best fullback Georgia Tech has had since Father Lumpkin." The No. 35 fullback became one of the feared Doddmen and earned both "All Southern" titles. Grant Field was his home. The fans called him "the Zoomer" and "Ziggy the Cat."

Frank's skills on the football field soon caught the attention of the NFL. It was no surprise when Frank signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1948. Frank said his good-byes and left for Eagles camp in Wisconsin. Here his smaller 5'11," 175-lb. frame seemed no match for the much heavier "pay-for-play" football men. On that first Sunday afternoon start against the Redskins, he was No. 41 playing half back. The other players soon learned that their size and weight could not always outmatch the courage and ferocity of the Zoomer.

In his first year with the Eagles, Frank wound up second in the ratings of NFL line smashers. At the end of the 1950 season, he was first in yards gained. Sports headlines around the country commonly carried stories of Frank’s tremendous performances. Frank was a part of the Eagles' National Championship win.

When asked about the future, Frank would respond: "I want to play on the pro circuit for a few seasons to gain gridiron knowledge and then to coach." Frank never realized his dream of becoming a football coach. During his pro football career, Frank worked with his brother Bill during the off season. Bill started Ziegler Tools in 1948 from the trunk of his car and later with the help of Frank’s sales abilities opened a store on Luckie Street in Atlanta near the Tech campus. It seemed everyone had heard of Frank and now wanted to do business with him. His ambition to become a coach was shelved.

Joining Bill full time in the business, Frank quickly secured and developed Ziegler's "Big-3" accounts -- Delta, General Motors and Lockheed. For 47-years Frank served as the vice president of Ziegler Tools where he influenced and touched the lives of many. He was known as a man of honor and integrity with whom the customer always came first.

He was in the office by 6 a.m. and spent many afternoons with customers on the golf course. Frank became a scratch golfer and learned that golf could be both a great sales tool and way to build life-long relationships with customers. He eventually retired from Ziegler Tools and spent many years between his home in Duluth (The Strickland House) and second home in Clarksville, Ga.

Frank continued to play golf, work in his yard and spend time with his family and dogs for many years. In 2006 Frank moved to Lanier Village Estates, an assisted living facility in Gainesville, GA, along with his devoted wife Alice.

Frank is a Christian and member of the LDS Church. He is survived by his wife Alice; daughters Cindy Tupps of Conyers, Frankie McCafferty of Lawrenceville, Sandra Ziegler of Burlington, VT; and Robin Burch of Kennesaw; sons Bill Howard of Daytona Beach, FL; and Bob Howard of Pensacola, FL; brother Bill Ziegler of Marietta; and sister Betty Dunn. Frank has 11 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. He is loved and will be missed by all.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Strickland House Fund, P.O. Box 599, Duluth, GA 30096, for preservation of the home. The Strickland House is leased by the Duluth Historical Society from the family and serves as the Duluth History Museum. The society welcomed family members after the service at the historic house.

Editor's note: Information for this obituary provided by family-placed death notice shared with the Duluth Patch.

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