VAN WERT — Van Wert lawyer David Zeigler had the unique experience of spending time in Alaska during the Korean Conflict. There, Zeigler was involved with the Arctic Test Branch of the United States Army.

“Our branch tested Arctic equipment and Arctic clothing equipment,” said Zeigler. “There were times when it would be -50 degrees all day long.”
After receiving an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Zeigler opted to enlist in the Army.

“The day before I graduated, I went downtown to enlist,” Zeigler said. “I had been deferred, so I enlisted in Chicago.”

Zeigler received his basic training in the School of Artillery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His next stopping place was Fort Lewis, Washington, before receiving his orders to go to Alaska.

Once Zeigler arrived in Alaska, he became a clerk/typist for a colonel that was in charge of the Arctic Test Branch. At Big Delta, Alaska, Zeigler learned that because of his college degree, he received favored treatment, especially because he had strong typing skills. In addition to his desire to serve his country, Zeigler also enlisted with the hopes of tapping into the GI Bill in order to continue on in law school.

“I wanted to complete my service so I could go to law school,” said Zeigler, who served for one year, 10 months and 18 days. “I doubt it if I could have gone to law school without the GI Bill.”

While in Alaska, Zeigler married Carolyn Drury. When she became pregnant, Zeigler and Carolyn were sent home early because conditions were not considered safe for her to deliver the child in Alaska. Eventually, Zeigler was discharged from Fort Sheridan, the same place where he had entered his years of service. He was relieved from active military service on May 4, 1954.

Following his release, Zeigler resumed his educational goal by attending law school at Ohio State University. There he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in law practice.

Zeigler was quickly ushered into prominence in his law practice. He served as assistant attorney general under William O’Neill, who earlier had been the youngest speaker house in Ohio history. Zeigler served as assistant attorney general for six months until he helped O’Neill become elected governor of Ohio in 1956.

Eventually, Zeigler returned to Van Wert where he practiced law for over 40 years. He retired when he was 69 years-old, but his wife of 39 years, Jeanne, continues to serve in the County Board of Elections office in Van Wert.

This year has proven to be a challenging year for Zeigler, but his positive spirit of survival enabled him to have a solid recovery following the replacement of two valves in his heart at the Cleveland Clinic in February.

“I went to Lutheran Hospital and they referred me to the Cleveland Clinic,” said Zeigler. “There I was fortunate to be treated by a doctor who does valve replacement and repair work. “When I look back at all I went through now, I feel like my surgery and recovery have been their own miracle,” continued Zeigler.

Zeigler looks back to his military service these days and is grateful for all he gained during that time.

“I feel like I learned a lot, like I gained from a lot of experiences,” Zeigler said. “It was disruptive to furthering my education, but I enjoyed it. I love all of the good memories I have from those days.”