Dr. Richard Zigler (second from left) left Canada for Africa, where he taught special needs education at Pwani University in Kenya. (Photo contributed)

Dr. Richard Zigler (second from left) left Canada for Africa, where he taught special needs education at Pwani University in Kenya. (Photo contributed)

Former Shuswap teacher remembered for staying true to beliefs

Celebration of life for Dr. Richard Zigler taking place Saturday, Feb. 23

Family and friends will celebrate the life of the late Dr. Richard Zigler this weekend.

Zigler died of heart failure in late December in India where he had sought medical treatment.

Those who knew him well say accessible and quality education for everyone were of prime importance and something he strove to make happen throughout his career.

Director of Student Support at School District #83 prior to retiring in early 2009, Zigler was still doing what he loved best – teaching special needs education at Pwani University in Kenya.

Describing himself as “a retired but not tired gypsy” on his Facebook page, Zigler, an avid woodcarver, is fondly remembered by family and friends.

“He taught us a lot about the kind of contribution we should be providing to the world, but gave us the opportunity to follow our own hearts,” says daughter Alicia, who lived in Tuktoyaktuk until she was four and her brother, Morgan, was two. “He never tried to say we had to be or act a certain way; he was very into individuality and freedom to develop the way we envisioned ourselves.”

Related: Supporting education in Tanzania

Related: Tribute to well-loved Salmon Arm teacher enables outdoor learning

Alicia believes his term as school principal in the North connected him to small communities and helped him to understand needs and barriers.

“He always strove to bring down the barriers for individuals to promote inclusion,” Alicia says.

Morgan confirms this, saying his dad grew up in the biggest city in Canada (Toronto), surrounded by thousands of people living conventional lives.

“My dad knew when he was 15 what his contribution to the world would be and he never wavered – to be focused on including everyone in the opportunities this world has to offer no matter who they were,” Morgan says. “He focused on leveraging the greatest impact for people who were marginalized and always saw in them their potential.”

Morgan says his father made a conscious decision to leave Canada, a country that had so many resources but wasn’t doing what he considered to be enough. So he moved to a country that had nothing but welcomed him and his ideas.

“As a father, he knew I needed to encounter all the challenges and he was there to support me,” says Morgan, now an educator. “He gave me skills to listen, have compassion and not assume anything about people.”

Physician Warren Bell had an office on same floor as Zigler and valued their conversations.

“Every time I met him in the corridor, he had something interesting to say about his work in Africa and he was very involved with starting the storefront school,” says Bell. “He is someone who put social and ethical values side by side with his professional work.”

Longtime friend Dorothy Argent agrees.

“I worked with him starting in 1998 when he got one of the labour market contracts and he remained a strong, true friend,” she says, pointing out she has read many online comments by students confirming how instrumental he was in raising awareness for special needs education and services. “Richard was true to himself, never influenced by what others thought about him and stayed true to his beliefs. He dared to do something different, go somewhere different and meet people.”

Longtime student support employee under Zigler’s direction, Rita Beraro is organizing a celebration of life at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Outdoor School on 10th Ave. SE, an event she says is “an opportunity to honour a man who has created so many opportunities for people to have access to education in different ways.”

Following the ceremony, there will be a social. Donations of finger food are welcome. Donations are invited to cover funerary costs in etransfers to richardziglermemorialfund@gmail.com. Excess funds will go to the cerebral palsy foundation that Zigler deeply care for in Mombasa, Kenya.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Joe Rich residents want logging operations in the area to stop for now until they get more clarity on slope stability and risks to the Mission Creek watershed. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Joe Rich logging poses watershed risk: residents

Area residents want the logging to stop in the area for the time being

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

.
Kelowna, Lake Country high schools exposed to virus

COVID-19 exposures listed at George Elliot, École Kelowna Friday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Enderby’s Small Axe Roadhouse was the subject of nasty backlash after installing two busty beer towers. (Facebook)
Enderby bar’s busty beer taps to stay put despite backlash

‘Many folks have mansplained to us that we are sexist, misogynistic…’

Most Read