School's namesake is alive and well
by Carl Vest
Have you ever wondered about the people surnames that are used as identifiers on public buildings? We often speculate whether these designators honor live human beings, or if they recognize a person who made some sort of social contribution in the far distant past. School buildings on South Hill, for example, are distinguished by a variety of names: Pope Elementary, Stahl Junior High, Rogers High, and others. Consider Zeiger Elementary School, for instance, located on 94th Avenue. Who is Mr. Zeiger, and when did he live? The school was dedicated on May 4, 1997, and named for Edward “Ed” Zeiger.
As of this writing, Ed Zeiger is alive and well and living on South Hill. He is retired. The Zeiger family cannot be classified as South Hill pioneers but their roots do go back to Germany. Ed’s great grandfather came to this country in 1858 and settled in Illinois. His father moved west in 1928 and settled in the Kittitas Valley, near Ellensburg. They moved to Puyallup in 1957 after Ed started working here in 1952. He is a graduate of Central Washington University, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from that institution.
Ed’s profession has always been education. Maplewood Elementary was his first school assignment (grades five and six). In 1958 he moved to Firgrove, where he served both as a Principal and a teacher in grades five and six. During his career he opened three new schools, Stewart in 1960 (serving as Principal while teaching fourth grade), Wildwood Park Elementary in 1966 (served as Principal), and Pope Elementary in 1981 (served as its first Principal). He moved to Sunrise Elementary in 1989 and retired in 1994.
During his career Ed supported his profession through the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association of Washington School Principals and the Elementary School Principals of Washington. He also was president of The Association of Puyallup School Principals, Puyallup Elementary Principals, and the County and Tri-County Principals.
Ed Zeiger earned many awards during his professional career. In 1969, for example, he received the Daffodil PTA Council’s Golden Acorn Award (by the Wildwood Park PTA). In 1985 the Association of Puyallup School Principals honored him with its Distinguished Principal Award, and in 1987, he received the Christa McAuliffe Washington Award for Excellence in Education. In 1994 the Daffodil PTA Council showed their respect by inaugurating the Edward Zeiger Award, given annually, in “appreciation to Ed Zeiger for outstanding service and ongoing commitment to youth in the Puyallup area.”
The Boy Scouts has been a passion of Ed’s for over 50 years. In 1986 they granted him their Silver Beaver Award. He has been busy in his church for over 30 years serving in various roles. Ed has coached youth softball for many-many years. The children of the world have benefited from his work with Kiwanis.
So the Zeiger Elementary School was named for a distinguished educator, and a person who has served his community over a lifetime.
Carl Vest, PhD, is a founding member and Research Director for the South Hill Historical Society.