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It was terribly sad news to learn that Mr. Derek Ziglar passed away at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last month.
Our enormous and heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to Derek’s widow, Stella, his mother and father, Jim and Martha, and to the rest of his family and many friends.
Derek’s great intellect, wit and thoughtfulness will be sorely missed – Derek will be missed. He truly made a difference.
Several folks who knew Derek primarily from his online work with the chronographic community asked what Derek was like in person. These are memories of a friend from Atlanta from years ago…
Derek was extremely serious, extremely quiet and extremely intelligent. In many ways, he was Mr. Spock – and he was truly his parent’s son. Derek’s father Jim was a career public relations representative for a Fortune 1000 company – who quietly cultivated magnificent, hybrid orchids in a backyard greenhouse. After meeting Derek’s mother, Martha, I later worked with her at the metropolitan-Atlanta nonprofit senior housing ministry where I was to spend my second career. It was sponsored by their family church. His parental roots were always apparent: he was a thoughtful, methodical learner and instructor. He tended gardens well – both his own, and those of other’s.
Derek was my brother Eric's best friend for many years while they went through high school and college together. From my earliest visits to Atlanta, long before I moved here – they were inseparable friends. Eric taught Derek to swim and Derek taught Eric geometry. When Derek and Eric were still in high school, they had already befriended faculty at the Georgia Tech computer center - where they spent their free evenings. They studied hard and rode bikes hard, played endless hours of video games long before anybody else had heard of video games, learned how to date girls together and played harmless practical jokes on each other. They were good kids; the kind of guys that parents were proud to have as teenage sons: they were smart and polite and just the right amount of irreverent. Derek was an extension of my parent's household, and Eric was the Ziglar's second son. They were more brothers than Eric and I.
Derek and Eric introduced me to the costumed midnight-spectacle of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – and to the earliest personal computers, the Vic 20 and Commodore 64. I began to learn a new language: computer-speak. Derek was my first super-expert: if you needed to buy or do or understand anything that Derek had ever investigated, you need look no further - his word was the word. Later, when other folks regarded me as their super-expert, it always made me smile: everything was relative... I knew the real super-expert.
He was a kind and gentle super-expert. While he aggressively learned everything he could about any topic of interest, he was equally enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and resources – and he was a good teacher. Anyone who needed to learn what Derek had to share was fortunate to benefit from his knowledge, wisdom, patience and humor.
Derek was always on the leading edge of technology, but the conservative leading edge. He believed in quality over risky savings: he bought IBM when I shopped generic at Crazy Bob's Computer Warehouse, and his audio, television and video equipment was always Sony (Beta video, of course) – but the piece of equipment he treasured most was an old, monophonic McIntosh tube amplifier that lived at Sweet Home.
Sweet Home was his other side - his parent's summer home in the beautiful north Georgia mountains. I was always grateful when Derek invited me to join them – for the time together and for the quietude. The surrounding countryside ranges from three to forty-five hundred feet and secrets dozens of spectacular water falls in the piney woods. The head of the Appalachian Trail is nearby. Occasionally, black bears would lumber in to scout the fragrant apple orchards, or you might wake to find a scorpion had set up housekeeping in your shoe…
I almost forgot Star Trek. Star Trek and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Generations. Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek. No more need be said.
Several years ago, Kristy (my wife) and I attended a costume Halloween party thrown by a speed-skater acquaintance and his wife, Candy – whom I had not met. As we entered the house, we met a bright, charming magazine writer named Anya and were captivated for an hour of delightful conversation. She invited us to her home for a party the following night. My father was visiting, and we asked if we could bring him along. Halfway through Anya’s party, my father came over and asked, “Have you put it together yet? – Who they are… Candy and Anya?”
Oh, my God.
Candy and Anya.
When I was visiting from college, I was invited to a couple of Derek and Eric’s parties, where I was always sure to see two of their closest friends through high school and college, Candy and Anya. Here they were – beautiful women, all grown up and married. We were all equally stunned, but the coincidence was wonderful – and twenty years later we had all chosen to spend time together again, with no awareness of the… many connections. Anya went to her closet and dug out photo albums of many years of outings with Derek and Eric. It was very special.
When Derek met Stella, all things of childhood came to rest. It was time to buy a condo, move out of the basement apartment crafted in his parent’s house, and begin the great adventure. Derek grew a well-manicured beard. To augment his aging, beige diesel Volkswagen Rabbit for his trips to the mountains, he bought a trusty Volvo 240. He and Stella began to collect antiques, including several I had owned (for several years after my divorce, it was odd to walk into their succession of their houses and – there was half my furniture).
Over the years, the connections between families of friends become increasingly convoluted. Derek bought my brother Eric’s prized, classic Porche 914 – a gulf blue, award-winning specimen. Derek and Stella arrived one afternoon to show off a white Saab he had just bought her. They build back-yard carp ponds, Stella did her beautiful pencil and charcoal drawings, Derek built a career as a highly-respected computer guru at Equifax and other Atlanta-based companies, and they explored life together.
One of my favorite memories with Derek was a New Year’s Eve we shared at their condo. While celebrating through the evening, Derek had his television tuned silently to the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker New Year Special – with audio accompaniment from Atlanta’s hard rock radio station. It presented a howling-funny if surreal background for the evening’s festivities. Tammy Faye would sing petulantly – with voice provided by Alice Cooper – and her “Jiffy-Pop” hairdo plastered above her ever-running eye make-up. It seemed orchestrated: 96Rock coordinated their play list to synchronize perfectly with the melodramatic crooning of mother and daughter, while Jim Baker did lip-synching for the 96Rock-jocks. We all laughed and played board games and fell asleep in various states of repose throughout the long night, awakening to enjoy more, and then finally sleepily find our way home in the early hours of the new day…
Sadly, we all lost touch over the years.
I last spent real time with Derek in the early nineties and we hadn’t spoken for about ten years. Periodically, I would spot him in Atlanta traffic in the gulf blue 914 he bought from my brother – a tweed British gentlemen’s cap perched squarely on his head...
Long after we lost touch, Derek developed an affection for fine watches which may have started when he bought Stella her first Rolex. He appreciated finely-tuned machinery – from tightly honed computer code to classic German sports cars to beautifully cut and shaped wood to handcrafted chronographic watches... When he moved to Santa Fe a couple years ago, he was already a renowned expert on Omega and Hauer watches – and true to his nature, he had enthusiastically created a website and set of online communication forums to enable others to share their knowledge and opinions. His influence spread from a small circle of friends and peers to – the whole world.
Derek loved to share learning.
In solving the challenges of life, Derek respected, sought and always created the elegant solution. I may never know or understand what challenge Derek faced that he chose this closure as his personal solution, but I am certain that he thought it though carefully and made his choices with full knowledge of all the implications. So, in the end, as difficult as it might be, I have to trust and respect his judgment. I wish Derek peace, joy and contentment for his eternity.
I see Derek at the keyboard of his computer, ready to solve his first challenge of the day. He is alone. His head tilts slightly, he clears his throat and focuses steadily on the screen, fingers floating just above the keyboard like a concert-pianist about to tackle Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto…
And I see him in his gulf blue 914 - tweed cap in place, and the faintest serene smile betraying just a hint of his pleasure in the day...
We miss you, Derek.
We always will.
I am terribly sorry for the extraordinary loss to Derek’s widow and parents. My sympathies and prayers go always with Stella, his mother and father, Jim and Martha, the rest of his family, and Derek’s many friends everywhere.
Derek’s parents, Jim and Martha Ziglar, can be reached at:
Mr. and Mrs. Jim and Martha Ziglar
1130 North Jamestown Road
Decatur, Georgia 30033
Derek’s widow, Ms. Stella Ziglar, can be reached at:
Ms. Stella Ziglar
301 State Road 503
Santa Fe, NM 87506
May God bless and be with all ~
Scott and Kristy Visit us at 2nilssons.com.
"I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy." ~ Ann Frank